Jayalalithaa case verdict today: 3 likely scenarios, what they mean for Amma

CHENNAI: One of the following three scenarios would unfold at 11am on Monday, when Justice C R Kumaraswamy reads out the verdict in the criminal appeals filed by ex-chief minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa and her three associates.

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One: Jayalalithaa earns a clean acquittal as the single judge overturns the 1,306-page judgment of special judge John Michael Cunha lock, stock and barrel. This is possible only if Justice Kumaraswamy is in full agreement with the explanations offered by Jayalalithaa’s legal team for her long list of assets, income and means by which they were accumulated.

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Of the three, this is the only situation which would pave the way for Jayalaltihaa’s return to public life and occupy the constitutional office of chief minister again. By the time the noise of fireworks subsides and sweet parcels are emptied, chorus and countdown for her return would start.

Two: Bad news for AIADMK, as the worst fear of its cadres comes true. If Cunha’s judgment survives scrutiny by Karnataka high court, it would mean demise of Jayalalithaa’s immediate political future and consequently that of the AIADMK as well. Confirmation of the trial court judgment would kick off the surrender formalities of Jayalalithaa and her three associates, and they must return to judicial custody within the timeframe laid down by the high court.

Given the Supreme Court’s unforgiving attitude towards corruption cases, Jayalalithaa and the three other co-accused are unlikely to get any relief without first giving themselves to judicial custody in Karnataka. Her legal team’s immediate task then would be to muster all its energy, or engage Harish Salve of Salman Khan fame, to get bail for all the four convicts.

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Three: Justice Kumaraswamy plays 50-50 by accepting some arguments from both sides, and then slashes the fine or/and reduces the sentence.

In terms of political consequence, this order too would be as bad as the second possibility. Once a conviction happens under the Prevention of Corruption Act, a sentence of two years or four years hardly matters, as disqualification gets into play anyway. Unlike regular IPC offences which would need a sentence of at least two years or more for attracting disqualification, a mere conviction is enough under the Prevention of Corruption Act for a politician to be disqualified and then debarred for another six years from contesting polls.

The remaining three convicts, N Sasikalaa, J Elavarasi and V N Sudhagaran, however, might feel relieved to get a lesser sentence, especially with one more appeal provision available in the Supreme Court.

Whichever way the pendulum swings, it is in Jayalalithaa’s interest to hurry up the special leave proceedings before the Supreme Court and get a favourable order as early as possible. Otherwise, even if she wins the appeals in the Karnataka high court and assumes office, a Damocles’ sword would be dangling over her head till the apex court gives a quietus to the issue.

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