AIADMK chief VK Sasikala's hope of becoming chief minister of Tamil Nadu was today dealt a body blow with the Supreme Court upholding her conviction in a corruption case, a verdict that bars her from contesting polls for nearly 10 years.
A close aide of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, 60-year-old Sasikala, who is locked in a bitter struggle for power in the ruling AIADMK with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, was ordered to surrender forthwith and serve the remaining part of her four-year jail term. The AIADMK general secretary has already served almost six months in jail.
The verdict disqualifies Sasikala from becoming a legislator and consequentially she can't be chief minister either for six years from the date of release of prison under the Representation of the People Act.
The trial court had sentenced Sasikala and her two relatives to four years imprisonment with a fine of Rs 10 crore each. Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years with a fine of Rs 100 crore.
Following is the chronology of events in the case:
* 1996: Subramanian Swamy, then Janata Party chief, files a case against Jayalalithaa alleging that during her tenure as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996, she amassed properties worth Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to her known sources of income.
* Dec 7, 1996: Jayalalithaa arrested. Many allegations follow, including accumulation of disproportionate assets.
* 1997: Prosecution launched in sessions court in Chennai against Jayalalithaa and three others for having assets 'disproportionate' to their known income.
* Jun 4, 1997: They are charge-sheeted for offences under sections 120-B IPC, 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
* Oct 1, 1997: Madras High Court dismisses 3 petitions by Jayalalithaa including one challenging the sanction granted by then Governor M Fathima Beevi for prosecuting her.
* May 2001: In the Assembly elections, AIADMK secures absolute majority and Jayalalithaa becomes CM. Her appointment is challenged due to her conviction in October, 2000 in the TANSI (Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation) case. The Supreme Court nullifies the appointment.
* September 21, 2001: Jayalalithaa ceases to be CM. After her conviction is set aside, Jayalalithaa is elected to the Assembly in a bypoll from Andipatti constituency on February 21, 2002, and again sworn in as CM.
* 2003: DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan approaches SC for transferring the trial to Karnataka on the ground that a fair trial was not possible in Tamil Nadu with Jayalalithaa as CM.
* November 18, 2003: SC transfers the case to Bengaluru.
* February 19, 2005: The Karnataka government appoints B V Acharya, a former Advocate General, as Special Public Prosecutor to conduct the prosecution.
* October/November 2011: Jayalalithaa deposes in the Special Court and answers 1,339 questions.
* August 12, 2012: Acharya expresses his inability to continue as SPP. Karnataka government accepts his resignation in January, 2013 and discharges him from the case.
* February 2, 2013: Karnataka government appoints G Bhavani Singh as SPP.
* August 26, 2013: Karnataka government issues a notification withdrawing the appointment of Bhavani Singh as SPP without assigning any reason and without consulting the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court.
* September 30, 2013: SC quashes the notification withdrawing appointment of Bhavani Singh as SPP.
* December 12, 2013: Special Court allows a plea by DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan and directs physical production of valuables and other assets seized from Jayalalithaa in 1997 and deposited in an RBI treasury in Chennai.
* February 28, 2014: Special Court dismisses plea by SPP seeking a direction to produce before it the seized silver articles belonging to her. Judge says SPP had filed it only with the purpose of delaying the proceedings.
* March 14/15, 2014: Special Court imposes a cost of one-day salary on SPP Bhavani Singh for not resuming final arguments citing ill-health.
* March 18, 2014: Singh moves Karnataka HC challenging the special court order imposing cost.
* March 21, 2014: HC rejects his petition saying the order of the special court imposing cost was right.
* August 28, 2014: Special Court reserves judgement for September 20 and directs all the four accused, including Jayalalithaa, to appear before it on that date.
* September 16, 2014: Special Court defers by a week to September 27 the pronouncement of its verdict.
* September 27, 2014: Special Court convicts Jayalalithaa and three others including aide Sasikala. Awards four years' prison term to Jayalalithaa, slaps Rs 100 crore fine.
* September 29, 2014: Jayalalithaa moves Karnataka HC challenging conviction, seeks bail.
* October 7, 2014: High Court denies bail, citing 'no grounds' to do so.
* October 9, 2014: Jayalalithaa moves SC seeking bail.
* October 17, 2014: SC grants bail to Jayalalithaa.
* October 18, 2014: After 21 days in prison, Jayalalithaa released from prison on bail. SC says it will ask Karnataka High Court to complete hearing on appeal in three months.
* December 18, 2014: SC extends Jayalalithaa's bail by four months. A bench headed by CJI H L Dattu orders that her appeal challenging conviction in Karnataka HC be conducted on a day-to-day basis by a Special Bench.
* February 26, 2015: DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan moves SC seeking stay of the case against Jayalalithaa questioning impartiality of SPP Bhawani Singh.
* March 9, 2015: SC issues notice to Jayalalithaa and others on plea by Anbazhagan seeking removal of prosecutor.
* March 11, 2015: Karnataka HC reserves order on appeal by Jayalalithaa and three others including confidante Sasikala in disproportionate assets (DA) case.
* April 1, 2015: Jaya defends Singh's continuance.
* April 15, 2015: SC gives split verdict on plea seeking removal of Bhawani Singh in Jayalalithaa's DA case before Karnataka HC, refers the matter to a larger bench.
* May 11, 2015: The Karnataka HC ruled that AIADMK supremo's conviction by special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law, clearing decks for her return as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
* June 7, 2016: Supreme Court reserves verdict on Karnataka government's appeal seeking stay of the Karnataka High Court judgement to Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her relatives V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi.
* Dec 5, 2016: Jayalalithaa dies after prolonged illness in Chennai.
* Feb 14, 2017: SC convicts Sasikala and her two relatives, V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi by restoring the trial court verdict in toto directing them to serve the remaining jail term.
(With PTI inputs)