The Special Court’s verdict on Saturday in the Rs 66.65-crore disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha came as a shocking blow ending her 18 year long legal battle as well as her political career.
Special judge John Michael D'Cunha sentenced her to four years imprisonment, imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, denied private medical treatment and ordered confiscation of all seized properties. It is the first time anyone has been convicted while serving as a Chief Minister. For Jayalalitha, it is the third time she has been convicted in a corruption case and the second time she has been forced to step down as Chief Minister. The former CM was convicted with charges of abuse of office and amassing wealth during her term as the Chief Minister. she had dragged on the case for almost eighteen years. Jayalalitha now is disqualified as an MLA and is barred from contesting elections for a period of conviction plus six years coming to a total of 10 years. The co accused Sasikala Natarajan, V. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi were also sentenced to four years in jail with a fine of Rs 10 crore each, by the Bangalore Special Court.
Tamil Nadu’s three times Chief Minister, Jayalalitha has always fought back with resilience and had made a comeback whenever her rivals had tried to suppress her. Efforts were made to hinder and delay the judicial process at every stage. But the prosecution and the judges handling the case have resisted the pressures upholding the principles of justice and fairness. The case was moved to Bangalore in 2003 after the Supreme Court found several attempts to subvert the trial during Jayalalitha’s earlier term starting in 2001. The Judge rejected Jayalalitha’s plea for lenient punishment citing her health and age, saying that such “serious” charges of corruption should be dealt with strictly.
The Judiciary has done a commendable job by ensuring justice and upholding the rule of law which is same for all the citizens including people in high public office. The ruling becomes relevant at the time when the members of the political class in most of the cases get away with the aid of power, money and influence while on the other hand, the common man is imprisoned on the basis of mere suspicion and prejudice. Some of them get a release from jail when their innocence is proved but after years long imprisonment. The compensation, if ever given, for the precious years of life wasted in confinement, does not do any justice to the pain suffered. The loss is irreparable. Many political leaders even if they get jailed for abuse of power and corruption try to gain back their position influencing the judiciary and law.
Power, resources and wealth should be used for the development and progress of the nation and not for personal purposes betraying the trust of the people who voted them to power. Justice has finally knocked at the door reinforcing people’s trust in the Judiciary. Tamil Nadu should be in the matured hands that would ensure the maintenance of law and order in the state and not encourage violence and destruction targeted at ordinary citizens and public property.