Jayalalithaa’s nephew, niece are her Class-II heirs: HC

MHC declares Jayalalithaa’s nephew and niece as her Class-II heirs

Jayalalithaa file photo

Declaring J Jayalalithaa’s nephew and niece as legal heirs of her properties worth several crores, the Madras High Court on Wednesday asked the Tamil Nadu government to reconsider its decision to convert the late Chief Minister’s palatial bungalow here into a memorial for her.

However, the court suggested that instead of converting the bungalow into a memorial alone that could result in huge expenses for the government, the mansion could be used as the official residence of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu as it possesses all facilities and infrastructure to serve as one, while a portion of the property can be converted into a memorial if needed.

The ruling is a setback to the AIADMK government which took temporary possession of the sprawling mansion in upscale Poes Garden here last week through an ordinance promulgated by Governor Banwarilal Purohit for establishing a memorial for Jayalalithaa.

“The petitioner Mr J Deepak and the respondent Ms J Deepa are the class-II legal heirs of late Chief Minister Dr J Jayalalithaa, being the son and the daughter of the late Chief Minister Dr J Jayalalithaa's brother Late J Jayakumar,” a division bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose said.

Deepak along with Jayalalithaa’s long-time aide V K Sasikala had performed the last rites of the former chief minister, who was buried on the Marina Beach here.

The bungalow, whose value is over Rs 100 crore as on date, was purchased by Jayalalithaa’s mother Sandhya in the late 1960s and the former chief minister lived there till September 22, 2016, before she was wheeled into the Apollo Hospitals, where she breathed her last 75 days later on December 5.

After Jayalalithaa’s death, the bungalow was occupied by Sasikala till she went to Parapana Agrahara prison in February 2017, to serve her 4-year jail term in disproportionate assets (DA) case.

The announcement that the bungalow will be converted into a memorial for Jayalalithaa was first made by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on August 17, 2017, as it was an integral part of the compromise arrived between him and his deputy O Panneerselvam for the merger of his faction with the AIADMK.

Though Deepak and Deepa were estranged with Jayalalithaa till her death, they knocked at the doors of the High Court laying claim on properties belonging to their aunt, who had no legal heir when she died in 2016.

The bench also said Deepak and Deepa are entitled to the Letters of Administration in respect of the estate held individually by or in the names of the firms or companies and the credits. The verdict effectively means that the government should issue a notice to Deepak and Deepa during the acquisition proceedings and have to pay the compensation for acquiring the Poes Garden residence.

Contending that public money cannot be wasted for the purpose of constructing memorials, the division bench observed that the real tribute to any leader should be paid by following his/her principles and working for the benefit of the people and development of the society.

“If the Government intends to make the residence of the Late Chief Minister's as a memorial, there will not be any end for such proposals. Every Government would like to make the residence of their leaders who were chief ministers as memorials and unnecessarily, the public money would be utilized for setting up memorials alone,” the bench noted.

The Poes Garden served as Chief Minister's Residence-cum-Office for over 15 years and it is also common knowledge that the bungalow is a vast property with all facilities and infrastructures required for using as Official Residence-cum-Office of the Chief Minister of the State, the bench observed.

“In view of the above, this Court would suggest to the State Government to consider making the above property as “Official Residence-cum-Office of the Chief Minister of the State” instead of converting the property as a “memorial” as desired by the Government,” it said.

The bench also asked the duo to allot a few properties, according to their discretion and create a registered Public Trust in the name of their late aunt for the purpose of public and social service within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of the court order.

The bench also made it clear that the duo was "entitled for administration" in respect of the estate held individually by the late Jayalalithaa or in the names of firms or companies and the credits of the former AIADMK supremo.

“Deepak and Deepa shall allot a few properties according to their discretion and create a registered public trust in the name of their late aunt for the purpose of doing social service within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of the order copy,” it added.

The bench also directed the state government to provide security to Deepak and Deepa at their own cost.

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