V K Sasikala, the general secretary of AIADMK, filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review the verdict passed against her in disproportionate assets case. Sasikala, along with four others, were sentenced to four years of imprisonment in the Rs 66-crore corruption case. The apex court, in its judgement of February 14, 2017, also debarred Sasikala from holding any constitutional office for the next 10 years, bringing her political career to its virtual conclusion.
Before moving to the prison, Sasikala had appointed E Palanisamy as the chief minister in a bid to prevent the rise of O Panneerselvam, the former chief minister, who had turned rebel. To maintain her grip over the party, Sasikala appointed her nephew TTV Dinakaran as the deputy general secretary of AIADMK, making him the de-facto leader of the party.
However, dissent soared against Dinakaran and led to his decline within the party following the cancellation of RK Nagar bye-election, the seat formerly represented by AIADMK matriarch J Jayalalithaa. Dinakaran failed to secure the two-leave symbol of AIADMK. Subsequently, he was arrested on charges of attempting to bribe Election Commission officials to claim the two-leave symbol.
With Dinakaran’s control weakening over the party, the AIADMK top brass sent feelers to rebel Panneerselvam camp. The latter has laid the precondition of Sasikala and her family members’ ouster from AIADMK in order to merge back with the party. Talks between both the factions are currently underway.
The corruption case dates back to 1996. Jayalalithaa, then chief minister, was accused of illegally acquiring wealth to the tune of Rs 66.5 crores. Sasikala, her closest aide, and four others were co-accused in the case. The trials in the case lasted for nearly 18 years with Jayalalithaa being forced to step down from chief ministerial chair on two occasions.
In 2014, the Special Court set-up in Bengaluru had convicted her on the third occasion. The order was overruled by the Karnataka High Court in 2015, paving the way for her return as the chief minister.
The matter was taken up for hearing by the Supreme Court in 2016. The verdict, finalised by the court, was released in February nearly two months after Jayalalithaa’s death. Although Sasikala and other accused were pronounced guilty, the bench decided to abate the charges levelled against Jayalalithaa due to her demise.