Chennai, Dec 20: The pending disproportionate assets case in the Supreme Court stands in Sasikala Natarajan's way of taking over as the AIADMK boss. The AIADMK is in transition following the death of their leader Jayalalithaa.
Sasikala a close aide and friend of the former chief minister is being pitched to lead the party. There have been petitions by party leaders urging her not only to take over as the general secretary of the party, but also as chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
The transition may be a smooth one and she may even take over as the CM, but all that would depend on the verdict of the Supreme Court which had several months ago reserved orders in the disproportionate assets case.
Just a quick recap
Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran were convicted by the trial court at Bengaluru in the disproportionate assets case. The high court however reversed that order while acquitting all four of them following which an appeal was preferred in the Supreme Court.
The SC after hearing arguments at length reserved orders in the case and has given no clear indication when it would pronounce its verdict.
The question of law is that since this is a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, will it apply to Sasikala who is not a public servant. A host of legal experts that OneIndia spoke with say that case would not fall against Sasikala and others just because it has been filed under the PC act.
She was convicted by the trial court not just under the PC act, but also under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code for abetment and conspiracy.
Will the case against Sasikala fall?
Former judge of the Supreme Court Justice Santhosh says that the states sans a public servant the PC act cannot be applied to a private individual. The Prevention of Corruption Act was applicable to Sasikala since Jayalalithaa, a public servant was the main accused in the case.
The question now is, with Jayalalithaa no more will the order against Sasikala change? Charges of abetment and conspiracy against Sasikala will stand if the Supreme Court finds her guilty. Legal experts also state that Sections 8 and 12 of the PC Act would also stand provided she is held guilty by the SC.
Since this case is at the appeal stage not much would change. If the Supreme Court were to uphold the verdict of the trial court then only the sentencing in case of Jayalalithaa alone would change considering she is no more. The verdict for the rest of them would remain the same.
Justice Hegde points out to Sections 8 and 12 of the PC act which deals with a private individual. Section 8 of the PC act deals with taking gratification, in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence public servant.
The act says whoever accepts or obtains or agrees to accept from any person, for himself or any other person by inducing a public servant shall be punished with a jail term of not less than six months but which may extend up to five years.
Section 12 of PC Act prescribes the punishment for abetting an offence. The punishment prescribed under this section is the same prescribed under Section 8 of the Act.