Jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala on Wednesday initiated the process for her release from Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru by depositing fine amount of Rs 10 crore before the 34th city civil court in the Karnataka capital. The fine amount was paid by four of her extended family members in demand drafts drawn from various bank accounts.
Sasikala, a close friend of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, is serving her four-year imprisonment in a disproportionate assets (DA) case and her jail term ends in February 2021. However, Sasikala's legal team has been pushing for her early release contending that she is entitled for ordinary remission by persuading the jail authorities to count all her non-availed leaves.
The prison administration had also told an RTI applicant in September that Sasikala can walk out of the prison on January 27, 2021 if she pays the fine of Rs 10 crore. “We will get a clear picture of whether the court has accepted the fine by the evening. Once the court issues the order, we will move for remission of sentence,” a source from Sasikala camp said.
Her legal team, led by senior counsel Raja Senthoor Pandian, took the first step towards securing her release from jail by depositing Rs 10 crore on Wednesday. Four demand drafts with the value of Rs 10.01 crore were submitted to the court on Wednesday afternoon.
While Pazhanivelu, brother of Sasikala's late husband M Natarajan, paid Rs 3.25 crore, his wife Vasantha Devi submitted a DD with a value of Rs 3.75 crore. Another DD with a value of Rs 3 crore was drawn by Hema, wife of Sasikala's nephew Dr S Venkatesh. Vivek Jayaraman, son of Sasikala's sister-in-law Ilavarasi who is also serving her jail term in the DA case, paid Rs 10,000.
Pazhanivelu is a retired police officer and Venkatesh is a radiologist who was close to Jayalalithaa before he was expelled from the party by her. Pandian has been maintaining that Sasikala is entitled to ordinary remission and that if she does not get ordinary remission, this will be the first time that someone has not been given that right.
Sasikala surrendered before the jail authorities on February 15, 2017 after her conviction in the disproportionate assets (DA) case was confirmed by the Supreme Court. Jayalalithaa was also an accused in the case, but her conviction was set off as she died two months before the judgement.
Sasikala’s release from the jail could be a major political event in Tamil Nadu as her physical presence in the state might alter political equations, especially, when the state stares at assembly elections in the first half of 2021.
Sasikala, who was elected as AIADMK legislature party leader, could not be sworn in as Chief Minister after incumbent and party colleague O Panneerselvam rebelled against her. Before she went to jail, Sasikala got Edappadi K Palaniswami elected as the leader of the AIADMK and he eventually became the Chief Minister.
However, Edappadi and his colleagues sacked Sasikala's nephew, T T V Dhinakaran, from the party and welcomed Panneerselvam back into their fold. Sasikala still remains a primary member of the AIADMK. But, the AIADMK says she is not a member citing the 'new constitution'.
Palaniswami and Panneerselvam now run the AIADMK jointly and the party has been maintaining that Sasikala’s release will not impact them.