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Uncertainty over Sasikala's swearing-in tomorrow

Speculation was rife about All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary V K Sasikala taking charge as chief minister of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday but there was no official word from the party in this regard.

Meanwhile, a public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court seeking to restrain the swearing-in of Sasikala on Tuesday.

However, the Madras University Auditorium, which had earlier hosted the swearing-in of the late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, was being reportedly spruced up for the occasion, while apparently awaiting the court directive.

The party remained tight-lipped on Sasikala taking over as chief minister on Tuesday as is being widely speculated.

A senior AIADMK source, however, indicated that all arrangements were in place in the event of the ceremony taking place on Tuesday.

The PIL have been filed in the SC on the ground that the apex court was likely to pronounce within a week the judgement in a corruption case in which, apart from Jayalalithaa, Sasikala is also an accused.

The PIL was filed by Chennai resident Senthil Kumar, general secretary of NGO Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, hours after the apex court indicated it could deliver its judgement on the appeals challenging the acquittal of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets case.

The petition is likely to be heard on Tuesday morning. Kumar, who mentioned in the plea that he will argue the matter in person, sought a stay on Sasikala’s swearing-in, contending that if she was convicted and forced to resign, there was a possibility of riots erupting all over Tamil Nadu.

He said law and order may worsen in such an eventuality as the state was already facing a ‘desperate situation’ due to cyclone, demonetisation and death of Jayalalithaa.

The petitioner claimed in case the appeal against her acquittal results in conviction, the AIADMK workers may once again protest and disturb the normal life of Tamil Nadu.

The petitioner said he filed the plea in the interest of people of Tamil Nadu and to maintain the peace in the state.

After Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5, 2016, Sasikala, who was her shadow for nearly three decades, was elected general secretary of AIADMK on December 29 and elected leader of its legislature party on Sunday.

Jayalalitha, along with her aides Sasikala Natarajan, V N Sudhakaran and J Elavarasi, was booked under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code for amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income in 1997.

The trial of the case was shifted by Supreme Court to Bengaluru on a petition filed by a Dravide Munnetra Kazhagam leader and the court there had convicted them on September 27, 2014.

However, the Karnataka high court had reversed the Special Court’s judgment on May 11, 2015.

The Karnataka government had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, which reserved its judgment in June last year.

Earlier in the day, an apex court bench headed by Justice P C Ghose asked senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Karnataka, to wait for a week after he made a mention before it regarding the delay in pronouncement of the verdict.

The apex court had last year, before the demise of Jayalalithaa, reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the the Karnataka HC order of her acquittal.

In case the Supreme Court upholds the lower court verdict, Sasikala would have to step down.

Photograph: R Sentil Kumar/ PTI Photo

Source: Rediff