SC verdict shows Sasikala her place

The Supreme Court’s judgement convicting AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala and others in a disproportionate assets case is a landmark in the fight against corruption in public life in the country. The verdict has to be seen in separation from the politics that it is mixed up with in Tamil Nadu.

Sasikala and her relatives are not public persons in the conventional sense but they were associated with the late chief minister of the state J Jayalalithaa, who was not convicted by the court only because she is no more. The corruption involved in the case is monumental and the general public, except those who were politically or otherwise prejudiced in favour of Jayalalithaa, were convinced of the veracity of the charges levelled against her and others. Not many politicians and public persons are convicted by courts for corruption or for other offences. Powerful politicians are especially able to subvert the course of justice in various ways with the help of resources at their command. The importance of the present judgement is that it has proved that law and justice would finally prevail. It has reaffirmed the people’s faith in judiciary.

The case has lagged for over two decades and that is a sorry comment on the system of dispensation of justice. Jayalalithaa had tried all means to delay the case and she succeeded in obstructing its course at least temporarily. After many years of obstructions, the trial court finally convicted the accused in September 2014. It ordered jail terms and attachment of properties of the convicts. The judgement was reversed on appeal to the Karnataka High Court but the apex court has now rightly restored the original judgement. The high court had obviously made a misjudgement of the facts of the case. The SC has now through its judgement asserted that even the powerful and influential would be made accountable for their actions, and that should serve as a lesson for all persons in public life. The case is also a reminder of the much-discussed fact that our system of justice is very slow and needs to be made quicker and more efficient.

The judgement has thrown open the political situation in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK legislature party’s earlier resolution electing Sasikala as leader has become infructuous and a new leader E K Palaniswami has been elected. He has staked his claim for chief ministership. Caretaker Chief Minister Panneerselvam, who had rebelled against Sasikala, has, however, contested Palaniswami’s election. State Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao had failed to act judiciously when Sasikala staked her claim for chief ministership. He should take the correct and proper constitutional course in the emerging situation in the state.

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