O Panneerselvam’s dramatic rebellion, which was expected to be crushed in a matter of hours, received an immeasurable boost today after AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala was found guilty by the Supreme Court in the 21-year-old Disproportionate Assets case. 


Though found guilty, the verdict has not ended all options for Sasikala, who can always appeal the verdict before a larger bench of the Supreme Court. However, the guilty verdict has thrown a significant spanner in the works for Sasikala, who was hoping to smoothly take over as J Jayalalithaa’s heir and the CM of Tamil Nadu. 


In its verdict, the Supreme Court set aside the Karnataka High Court's decision and reinstated the trial court judgement, which had imposed a four-sentence on her. Sasikala will also now be disqualified from holding public office for either six years or in case another appeal is upheld. 

 

The apex court restored the judgement and the findings of the trial court in Bengaluru which had held guilty all the accused including Sasikala's two relatives, V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi. The two-judge bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy directed Sasikala and the two relatives to surrender forthwith to the trial court in Bengaluru and serve the remaining part of four year jail term.

 

The bench read the operative portion of the voluminous judgement saying that "according to the materials and evidence place on record, we set aside the judgement and the order of the high court and affirm in toto the judgement and order the trial court convicting the accused persons." The bench said since Jayalalithaa has expired, the proceeding against her is abated.

 

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. 


So far, a small trickle of MLAs has drifted over to OPS’ side. But that is expected to transform into a flood tide now. However the OPS camp still has a long, uphill battle to go. As Jayalalithaa herself proved, it is not compulsory to be the CM to control the AIADMK. The fight from the Sasikala camp will continue unabated, with a family member or another favourite being appointed in place of Sasikala. 


Either way, unless the AIADMK wholly changes and appoints Panneerselvam as the leader of the party, OPS will still have to prove his majority in the Tamil Nadu Assembly anyway. Now the ball is in the court of the AIADMK MLAs.  
 

 

(inputs from PTI)