Topic started by Tamilan (@ 184.108.40.206) on Tue Mar 16 02:37:59 EST 2004.
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Indian Express, Wednesday, April 28, 1999
The Jayalalitha baggage
... Jayalalitha's trouble with the law enforcement agencies began soon after she relinquished charge as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in May 1996. Soon, the state's Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) launched a six-day search operation at her Poes Garden residence and business establishments, which led the agency to a virtual treasure trove. Courts were told that the raids resulted in seizure of some 28 kg of jewellery (worth Rs 51 crore), 91 wrist-watches, 41 air-conditioners, 10,500 sarees, 750 pairs of footwear and so on ...The raids also led DVAC to sheaves of documentspertaining Jayalalitha's properties and business transactions in which she had allegedly intervened as Chief Minister.
The investigations led the DVAC to some startling revelations. For instance, while before she was Chief Minister, Jayalalitha's assets were worth Rs 2.01 crore, after five years in power, her assets were calculated to be disproportionate by Rs 66.65 crore. The probe into the assets began in June 1996, on the basis of a complaint filed by Subramanian Swamy. After 1,053 witnesses and 15,000 pages of evidence were examined, a formal case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered.
The case of the prosecution is that while Jayalalitha along with her confidant, N. Sasikala and V.N. Sudhagaran, Sasikala's nephew, went on an acquisition binge between 1991 and 1996. They, the prosecution said, floated 32 business partnerships together, but there was very little activity that took place in these companies. And no Income Tax or Commercial tax was paid. In all, Jayalalitha and Sasikalaowned 11 properties (worth Rs 15.93 crore) and Jayalalitha's associates (held by them on her behalf) owned 109 properties (worth Rs 30.45 crore).
Among the business scams, courts have framed charges in three, including the case of disproportionate assets and colour TV case and chargesheets have been filed in the TANSI case and the coal scam. Briefly, the charges faced by the AIADMK supremo are as follows:
Land sold for half price by Chief Minister Jaya to citizen Jaya: A foundry unit owned by the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation (TANSI) was sold to Jaya Publications in 1992, at almost half the price quoted in guidelines. Bureaucrats who had opposed the sale of the property were transferred. Jayalalitha signed both the sale agreements and her company got pecuniary advantage to the tune of Rs 3.5 crore. Several complaints were filed on the deal and in 1995, it was the Tamil Nadu Governor, M. Channa Reddy who gave sanction for prosecution.
Rural Tamil Nadu got the most expensive TVs: AsChief Minister, Jayalalitha approved purchase of 45,145 TV sets for rural habitations with a population of more than fifty families. Quotations from 197 firms were called and six of them finally participated in the negotiations. Jayalalitha, as Chief Minister, had personally intervened in the purchase and approved it at the highest rate. The estimated loss in the deal was Rs 10.16 crore.
Spare-part dealer imports coal: Here, Jayalalitha is alleged to have ordered imports of poor quality, over-priced coal from Indonesia, overruling objections of the Public Works Department. As Chief Minister, she allowed forging of tender documents and personally asked the Prime Minister to give customs exemption for the consignments. One of the importers was known to Sasikala and was discovered to be dealing in automobile spares. The loss, in the first coal contract being investigated, was of Rs 6.57 crore and a chargesheet, with 63 documents attached, has been filed.
Quarry licences renewed, rules violated: Inwhat is known as the granite case, Jayalalitha, who was also Industries Minister, faces allegations of illegally renewing licences of nine quarries, causing a loss of Rs 12.05 crore to the State. The licences had been granted overruling protects of the Law Department and bypassing the Finance Department. Instead of tenders being called, nominations were issued. The scam surfaced when Dhyaneswaran, an alleged associate of Jayalalitha, was raided by Income Tax officers. He later gave a statement listing all the bribes given by the lessees. Witnesses have confirmed the payments and the case is under investigation. Besides these, there are a spate of corruption cases faced by Sasikala, Jayalalitha's closest associate and Chairperson of JJ TV. In one case, she is alleged to have paid $ 880,000 to two companies without seeking the RBI's permission and made a third payment to Intersputnik Moscow. In another, she is alleged to have deposited $342,000 in an NRI account in Malaysia.
A number of Jayalalitha's formercabinet colleagues and senior bureaucrats who worked with her are also facing the flak from the investigating agencies.
Among the prominent persons to have their names clubbed along with the Jaya scams are former revenue minister S.D. Somasundaram, former speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly Sedapatti R. Muthiah, former health minister S. Muthuswamy, former agriculture minister K.P. Krishnan and former education minister K. Ponnuswamy.