Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s residence in Chennai was maintained by an army of servants and run largely by her aide Sasikala. The judgment convicting Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and two other associates for disproportionate assets contains detailed witness accounts of life in No. 36 Poes Garden – testimony that played a large part in convincing Judge John Michael Cunha that the four colluded to siphon money illegally.

Sasikala’s family

Prosecution witness M Jayaraman worked at Poes Garden between August 1993 and October 1996, looking after many of its daily affairs, including paying its staff. According to his testimony, in the year 2000, Sasikala, her nephew VN Sudhakaran, sister-in-law Illavarasi, Illavarasi’s son Vivek and Sudhakaran’s wife Satyalakshmi all lived in the house. There were frequently visited by more of Sasikala’s relatives.

One of Jayaraman’s important tasks was to deposit cash into two bank accounts from time to time. Sasikala would use the household intercom to give Jayaraman the details of the bank and accounts to be credited. She would then send the cash in a suitcase or bag with a servant, along with challan books to make entries for the deposits.

Jayaraman used to receive Sasikala and Sudhakaran’s phone calls on any of five phone connections in the house. In addition, the house had a separate phone line installed by the government for the chief minister.

Crowded house

There were 12 or 13 vehicles in Poes Garden and six drivers who were each paid Rs 1,500 per month. The house had a cook and two assistant cooks who made food for Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her family, and another person to cook for the servants. Five girls and two boys between the ages of ten and fifteen used to perform domestic chores. Three guards from a private security firm watched over the house. Two sweepers and an electrician were also paid monthly salaries for maintenance work. The sole duty of one of the servants was to make coffee or Horlicks for visitors.

Eight litres of milk were supplied to the house every morning and ten litres every evening. No. 36 Poes Garden was also home to about a dozen dogs, for whom eight kilos of meat were bought every day from Chennai’s Pondy Bazaar. Most of the payments were made in cash, according to Jayaraman’s testimony.

Although Jayaraman contradicted his own statement when he was recalled by the defense in 2002 – while Jayalalithaa was once again chief minister – he later reverted to his original version of events in the case.