Relief for Amma

Amma acquitted: High Court decides that Jayalalithaa wasn't corrupt after all

J Jayalalithaa, who was disqualified as MLA upon her conviction in September, can now return to public office.

J Jayalalithaa is set to return as Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister. The Karnataka High Court overturned a trial court verdict and acquitted Jayalalithaa of all charges of amassing wealth disproportionate to her income during her first term as chief minister. The acquittal means that her disqualification as an MLA after the trial court conviction is lifted and she can hold public office again immediately. High Court Judge Kumaraswamy was brief and only said "appeal upheld", according to news reports and lawyers present in the court.

Amma's supporters who thronged her house and the AIADMK office since early this morning broke out in celebration, ecstatic that their leader will return to run the state.

On September 27, 2014, a trial court convicted the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in what has come to be known as the Disproportionate Assets case. The trial court had sentenced the former chief minister and three others to four years imprisonment, while imposing a fine of Rs 100 crore on Jayalalithaa, and Rs 10 crore each on the other three.

The case goes back to 1996 and a private complaint filed by Subramanian Swamy in a Chennai court.  Jayalalithaa was charged with accumulating assets disproportionate to her incomes in her tenure as Chief Minister between 1991 and 1996. Raids conducted at her lavish Poes Garden residence unearthed 800 kg silver, 28 kg gold, 750 pairs of shoes, 10,500 sarees, 91 watches and other valuables, all totalling Rs 66.65 crore. After a location change to Bangalore in 2003 and many adjournments and postponements over 18 years, the trial court finally delivered its verdict last September. Judge Michael D’Cinha found that Jayalalithaa has amassed wealth up to Rs 55 crore during her first term as Chief Minister while her worth till 1987 was only about Rs. 8.5 lakh.

Since her conviction and after spending a few days in Bangalore Central Jail, Jayalalithaa has stayed in in her Chennai house without making any public appearances. Her right-hand man O Panneerselvam took over as Chief Minister immediately after the trial court verdict in September. Panneerselvam has made it clear that he is a seat filler for his party leader and doesn't have the temerity to either sit in her office or take any decisions to run the state.

Jayalalithaa’s political journey                          

Sixty-seven year old Jayalalithaa started working in films when she was just 15 with her first release in 1961. A popular silver screen figure in the 60s and 70s, she entered the political arena in 1982 when she joined AIADMK founded by her co-star and mentor MG Ramachandran. A year later she was made the Propaganda Secretary of the AIADMK in January 1983. Jayalalithaa was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1984 and kept the seat till 1989. After MGR fell in 1984, Jayalalithaa became the face of the AIADMK and after his death in 1987, the sole and supreme leader of the party.

The AIADMK won a landslide victory in the Tamil Nadu elections of 1991. Jayalalithaa contested from Kangeyam and Bargur and won both the seats. However, rival party DMK trounced Jayalalithaa and her party five years later. Jayalalithaa made come backs as chief minister twice since then, in 2001 and in 2011.

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