The Supreme Court on Tuesday convicted All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary VK Sasikala and two others in the illegal wealth case, upholding the trial court judgement of 2014 which sentenced them to four years imprisonment.

The case was filed in 1997 against former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who was accused of amassing wealth of over Rs 63 crore disproportionate to her known sources of income when she was chief minister between 1991 and 1996.

Sasikala, a longtime personal aide to Jayalalithaa, was included in the case as a co-conspirator and charges were framed under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code.

However, things took a dramatic turn on December 5, when Jayalalithaa died. Following her death, confusion arose as to whether the charges against all accused would be abated since the principal accused in the case had died.

This confusion arose because of the nature of the Prevention of Corruption Act itself. Under the law, the charges flow from the public servant – in this case Jayalalithaa in her capacity as the chief minister. Sasikala as a co-accused did not hold public office, and so was only considered part of the case because of Jayalalithaa’s public position.

Since the Code of Criminal Procedure clearly states that criminal proceedings against a person will abate when they die, and since crimes under the PCA flow from the public servant, it was speculated that Sasikala as well as other co-accused Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran may escape punishment.

The Tuesday verdict, however, seems to settle this question. While the order is yet to be made public, it appears that the bench comprising of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy have upheld the trial court’s conviction of the co-accused even after Jayalalithaa’s death.

Sasikala’s conviction means even if the public servant responsible for the corruption dies, the co-conspirators and benamis can still be convicted.