The fate of AIADMK General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan, fighting a bitter power battle with interim Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam after the demise of J. Jayalithaa, is likely to be decided tomorrow as the Supreme Court may deliver the much-awaited verdict in the disproportionate assets case involving her as an accused.
A bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy, which said last week that the verdict would be out in few days, is likely to pronounce the judgement at 10.30 AM tomorrow on a batch of appeals, including the one filed by Karnataka government against the High Court verdict acquitting prime accused Jayalalithaa and her close aide and now AIADMK chief Sasikala.
Besides Jayalalithaa, against whom the proceedings would be abated due to her demise on December 5 last year, Sasikala, and the latter's relatives, V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, were also acquitted in the assets case by the Karnataka High Court.
The apex court, on June 7 last year, had reserved its verdict on a batch of appeals filed by Karnataka government and others against the High Court order acquitting then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and others in the assets case after hearing a battery of lawyers from both sides.
While Jayalalithaa was represented by senior advocate L Nageswara Rao, now a Supreme Court judge, in the hearing of the appeal, another senior lawyer Shekhar Naphade represented other accused in the case.
The hearing in the high-profile case had concluded during summer vacation last year by the apex court which also heard DMK leader K Anbazhagan and BJP MP Subramanian Swamy against the acquittal of Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and others.
Senior advocates Dushayant Dave and Siddharth Luthra and lawyer B V Acharya had appeared for Karnataka government and had dealt with the alleged flaws in the High Court verdict.
Luthra and another senior advocate C A Sundaram had dealt with the firms which had found mention in the trial court records. These were Lex Property Development, Meadow Agro Farms Ltd, Riverway Agro Products Pvt Ltd, Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd, Signora Business Enterprises Pvt Ltd and Indo Doha Chemicals and harmaceuticals Pvt Ltd.
Senior advocates T R Andhyarujina and Vikas Singh had appeared for DMK leader Anbazhagan and sought reversal of the High Court verdict.
The apex court, during the hearing, had said that acquiring assets "per se" is not a crime unless the sources are found to be illegal.
The court had outlined the three options available to it and said it may either uphold the High court verdict or reverse it or re-appreciate the entire evidence which may lead to fresh re-trial. It can also remand the matter to the High court for fresh consideration.
Dave, appearing for Karnataka, had said, "The judgement of the High Court reflects violent miscarriage of justice and it is perverse beyond imagination. It is based on mere surmises and conjectures and none of the findings are based on evidence."
The Karnataka government was arguing its appeal in the case as the trial was shifted from Tamil Nadu and a Bangalore court had convicted the accused including Jayalalithaa who later succeeded in her challenge before the High Court there. (More) On July 27, 2015, the apex court had issued notices on
Karnataka government's appeal seeking stay of the high court judgement to Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her relatives V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, asking them to file their replies within eight weeks.
The Karnataka HC had on May 11, 2015 ruled that AIADMK supremo's conviction by special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law, clearing decks for her return as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
The special court had in 2014 held Jayalalithaa guilty of corruption and sentenced her to four years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore.
Jayalalithaa and three others were accused of allegedly amassing disproportionate asserts to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during her first term as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996.