TAMIL NADU: In a huge relief to former Tamil Nadu chief minister, the Karnataka high court on Monday acquitted J Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case. It is being reported that Jayalalithaa may now return as the CM of Tamil Nadu, as early as May 17.
The acquittal would enable a big political comeback for Jayalalithaa, who has waged many legal battles and seen several ups and downs in her political career.
Jayalalithaa and three others had filed an appeal against the Special Court Judge Michael D’Cunha’s September 27 verdict sentencing them to four years in jail and imposing a hefty fine of Rs 100 crore on her and Rs 10 crore each on three others.
Pronouncing the verdict, Justice CR Kumaraswamy also acquitted AIADMK’s chief close aide Sasikala Natarajan and her relatives J Elavarasi and VN Sudhakaran, disowned foster son of Jayalalithaa.
Victory celebrations broke out immediately outside her Poes Garden residence in Chennai where party workers celebrated with bursting of crackers and dancing while flashing victory sign.
Celebrations also broke out across Tamil Nadu with bursting of crackers and breaking of coconuts on Jayalalithaa’s acquittal.
DMK to re-strategise
Meanwhile Jayalalitha’s AIADMK party released a statement saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi had telephoned her.
“Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (Revolutionary Leader-Amma) and extended his greetings,” said the AIADMK release said.
Modi and Jayalalithaa are said to enjoy cordial relations with the former attending her swearing-in ceremony as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in 2011. The AIADMK supremo returned the favour by attending his swearing-in ceremony as Gujarat Chief Minister the next year.
On a related note, DMK top brass on Monday went into a huddle to work on a political and legal strategy following the latest ruling.
Politically, the verdict in favour of AIADMK chief is seen as a set back for the DMK as it has been aggressively using the Disproportionate Assets case and the conviction of Jayalalithaa by a trial court last year to target the ruling party.
With Assembly polls just a year away, the judgement has stunned the DMK which is now looking at both legal and political options to take on the ruling party, DMK sources said.
DMK leader K Anbazhagan is also a petitioner in the case.
“Thalaivar (party president) is seized of the whole issue, he will make it known, we cannot say anything more now” a senior party leader told PTI when asked on party line after Jayalalithaa’s acquittal.
Consultations were on with top leaders to fine tune political strategy and holding meetings with legal experts, he said.
Karunanidhi would formally state DMK’s stand on the issue of going for any appeal against the verdict exonerating Jayalalithaa, he added.
For the DMK, which is still battling to ward off the 2G spectrum scandal tag, the conviction of Jayalalithaa by a trial court last year came like a boon to target the AIADMK with a new found vigour.
Earlier on Monday, the DMK top brass, gathered at the Gopalapuram residence of party chief Karunanidhi here an hour ahead of the ruling to take stock of the situation after the verdict.
Senior party leaders MK Stalin, Duraimurugan, and Ponmudi were among those who gathered.
In a statement, Karunanidhi amply made clear his displeasure, quoting appeal court proceedings, and posing some questions and said “this is not the final judgement.” – Compiled from Daily News Analysis reports