The Supreme Court has listed for hearing petitions filed by V K Sasikala, her sister-in-law Ilavarasi and her nephew V N Sudhakaran to review their conviction in the disproportionate assets case.
The apex court had last February upheld the verdict of the trial court in Bengaluru which sentenced them to four year imprisonment along with former Chief Minister and main accused J Jayalalitha in the Rs 53 crore disproportionate assets case.
The case against Jaya has abated following her death last December. However, the apex court ruled that she was the main conspirator in the case and Sasikala and others were abettors.
All the three now in jail, filed the review petition last week in the Supreme Court. The review petition has to be heard by the same bench which gave the ruling on appeal filed by Jaya and others.
A bench comprising Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitav Roy had convicted them on Feb 14, setting aside the acquittal of Jaya and others by the Karnataka High Court and upholding their conviction by the trial court.
Following Justice Ghose’s retirement since then, the review petitions were posted before Justices Amitav Roy and Rohinton Nariman.
However, Justice Rohinton Nariman recused himself on the ground that his father and senior counsel Fali Nariman got Jaya bail in the Karnataka High Court after her conviction.
The review will come before a new bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and Amitav Roy.
Very rarely does the Supreme Court agree to review its judgment.
On Aug 22, the two judges will hear the petitions in their chamber and decide whether they are admissible. If they are held to be admissible, the case will be heard in open court in which the Karnataka Government which prosecuted them upon transfer of the case from Tamil Nadu will also be allowed have its say.
This is a last-ditch battle for Sasikala. Under the amended Representation of the People Act, the six-year disqualification from public life will come into effect only after the end of the term. This will mean that she will be barred from contesting any election for 10 years. Hence, her desperation to somehow get a reversal of her conviction.
Her review petition comes in the backdrop of the move by the Edappadi and O Pannerselvam factions of the AIADMK to nullify her appointment as general secretary.
This has been one of the main demands of Pannerselvam who is not satisfied with the Edappadi voiding Sasikala’s appointment of Dinakaran as deputy general secretary.
It is this hitch which has delayed the merger. Sasikala was elected general secretary by the united AIADMK in February and Pannerselvam was also a party to that. It was only after she forced him out of office that he revolted and split the party.
Therefore, by demanding her expulsion now, he is putting the cart before the horse. For only a united AIADMK can call the general council meeting to nullify her appointment.
As Pannerselvam has no stake, unlike Edappadi who has to save his government from the machinations of Sasikala and Dinakaran, he is striking a hard bargain.