Government of Tamil Nadu has initiated steps to confiscate key properties of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in six districts, thus indicating she is no longer a holy cow.
In a quite move that almost went unnoticed, the government of Tamil Nadu has initiated the process of taking over the properties of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
A year ago, when Jaya was alive, this would have been unthinkable. Jaya considered her properties very close to her heart and nobody would have dared to go anywhere near.
Of course, the properties now being confiscated follows the Bengaluru trial court order that was upheld by the Supreme Court.
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Jayalalithaa is considered as Amma or God Mother in Tamil Nadu. Aware that the move to take over Amma’s properties would invite the wrath of the AIADMK workers, the Tamil Nadu government chose to secretly initiate the process of confiscating the properties.
These properties were attached in the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa and three others.
Collectors of 6 districts were surprised when they got an order to attach properties
Collectors of six districts were surprised when they got an order to attach the properties. In normal circumstances, collectors would be briefed by the government when there is a high profile confiscation to be executed. But in this case, the collectors just got a written order.
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The properties are located in prominent localities of Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur and total up to 68. The collectors have been told to take physical possession of designated properties registered in the name of six firms owned by Jayalalithaa or her close aide V.K. Sasikala, J. Elavarasi and V.N. Sudhakaran.
Jaya is no more and the aides are cooling their heels in jail.
The lands that are to be taken over are worth several hundreds of crores of rupees. After due process of law, the lands would belong to the Tamil Nadu government. The government will get the right to auction the lands.
But it is doubtful if the lands would be auctioned. Sources in the ruling faction of the AIADMK said the properties would be utilised for public purposes in the memory of Jayalalithaa.
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The source was silent on high value properties located in the heart of Chennai which cannot be used for public purposes. “We shall create a trust in the name of Amma and deposit the rent or proceedings there. The money thus accrued would be utilised for public cause,” the source added.
In the long-winding case against Jaya, 128 properties were actually attached. The trial court ordered the confiscation of only 68.
“These are prominently located properties in Chennai, Kancheepuram and other districts. The purchase price, equivalent to the guideline value prevailing almost 20 years ago, is very less compared to the current market price,” a senior State official told The Hindu.
“The Tamil Nadu government will become the owner of these properties which can either be used for official purposes or sold in public auction,” the official said.
The assets accumulation began in 1991. As on July 1, 1991, Jayalalithaa was found in possession of properties and pecuniary resources in her name and in the name of her close friend and aide Sasikala to the extent of only Rs 2.01 crore.
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However, after July 1, 1991, when Jaya became the Chief Minister, she and her associates amassed assets to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore. The Bengaluru trial court found this was grossly disproportionate to their known sources of income.
The trial court held the value of the disproportionate assets to be Rs 53.60 crore and convicted all the accused to four-year imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore on Jayalalithaa and Rs 10 crore each on Sasikala, Sudhakaran and Elavarasi.
But using a strange mathematical formula, a single bench of the Karnataka High Court set aside the trial court order. The State of Karnataka then went on appeal to the Supreme Court that upheld the order of the then trial court judge John Michael D’ Cunha.
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