Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sasi's deposition : Round 1

It is exactly what we said  has happened. Whispers in Tamil Nadu narrated in detail in the article “Jayalalitha : The Godmother  ?“ About Amma’s game plan to tame Sasikala and make her toe the line desired by her.  If you think Sasikala did exactly the same, to a certain extent you are right.   In fact, she performed a soap opera much to the discomfiture of the prosecutor and the Judge.   She spoke like a parrot.   She danced in perfect rhythm to the tunes of Amma whose police force is slapping case after case against Sasi’s dear and near.   

At 11 am, Sasikala along with Ilavarasi - brother’s wife, who is also a co-accused in this case, came to the special court in a grey colour Innova car. Accompanied by her lawyers, Sasikala walked inside the court hoping that her deposition would not take place on Saturday. Sasikala' counsel argued that a Special Leave Petition filed in the Supreme Court on her behalf is still pending and prayed the special court to wait for the Supreme Court's decision. But the Special Public Prosecutor B V Acharya was quick to play a devils advocate - quite literally, a furious Acharya who has seen the delaying tactics of Amma and the former Chinnamma in the past, objected and argued that Sasikala's petition was nothing but a frivolous one and if accused are allowed to seek adjournments on grounds of SLPs it would set the wrong precedent in future.   The Judge too rejected Sasi camp’s plea for time citing that there is no stay order in operation.

As the arguments progressed in the court room, the DVAC team led by IG AMS.Gunaseelan and SP TN.Venkateswaran and an intelligence team from Tamil Nadu were watching in rapt attention the emotional drama enacted by Jaya’s erstwhile confidante, friend, business associate, etc.   

With the Supreme Court turning down Sasikala’s plea for translated copies of questions in Tamil and refusing to stay the proceedings, it was time for Sasikala to bite the bullet. According to the original plan this was the day the entire Mannargudi Mafia were waiting for. But unfortunately, their conspiracy against Jayalalitha was out in the open and it was end game for Mannargudi Mafia. Sasikala and Co. are squeezed and pushed to a corner and now it looks like Sasikala, resigned to her fate that she cannot look the other way anymore. With no options left, Sasikala had to face the barrage of questions posed by the Special Judge Mallikarjunaiah.     

Even before the Special Judge Mallikarjunaiah started reading out the questions Sasikala started whimpering and had a depressing look. 
The Judge looked at Sasikala and asked : What is your name? 

Sasikala couldn't answer that question by herself, it was translated to her by the interpreter. Similar pattern followed in the court room.

Judge : What is your age? 

Sasikala : 57

The judge then asked : What is your father's name? 

Sasikala : Vivekanandan 

Judge : What is he? 

Sasikala : Businessman

Finally it was time to face some tough questions, the Judge asked a question based on the document, a sale deed executed building bought for Jaya Publications.

Sasikala said "I was the one who was taking care of Jaya publications. It was a partnership firm and I took care. Jayalalithaa was not involved in the affairs of the Jaya publications."

When Mallikarjunaiah started asking questions about the role played by Sasikala in Sasi Enterprises and the properties purchased in her name, Sasi broke down and wiped her tears in her sari.  

The Judge paused and continued his questions. Sasi who is well aware of the cases slapped against Diwakaran and Ravanan, blurted out that it was she who managed all the affairs of Sasi Enterprises, Jayalalitha is completely innocent, unaware of the happenings in Sasi Enterprises and Jaya was only a dormant partner.    
As Sasikala's deposition was underway at the Banglore Special Court. Back home in Chennai, top officials of the State Intelligence went into a huddle and were passing on real time intelligence to Siruthavur, where Jayalalitha is staying for a week. Whispers doing rounds in AIADMK circles is that Amma has gone to Siruthavur bungalow for a week, as her Poes Garden residence is being altered and is getting a Vastu touch. Poes Garden insiders say Amma wanted all traces of Sasikala's to be removed from Veda Nilayam including Sasi's room. 

As TV channels started flashing news saying 'Sasikala shields Jaya', Sasi gives clean chit to Jaya'. Jayalilatha was aware that it was too early to even draw conclusions.  The Godmother who is not prepared to forgive the Sasi camp for their treachery was waiting to give another major blow to Sasikala.  After her kid brother and her close relative, it was the turn of her husband to face the police in the evening. Ironically for Natarajan the landgrabbing charges have come based on his pet project.  On January 17, Natarajan who addressed his annual Pongal function proudly donated Rs.50 lakhs on the stage for the construction of a memorial for Eelam Tamils who lost their lives in the final phase of the ethnic war. 

Natarajan mobilized Rs.50 lakhs on the stage itself by selling his vehicles and Rolex watch.    Now the Thanjavur police have registered a case against Mr. Natarajan, his brother M. Swaminathan, and associates Chinnaiah, Suresh, Elanchezhiyan and Kubendran for criminal conspiracy, rioting, and criminal intimidation. The complainant Ramalingam had given a complaint that Natarajan and his associates had forcibly encroached upon his 15,000 sq. ft land for constructing a memorial.
As reported by us in our previous story, Jayalalitha is not taking any chances.  Though Sasikala toed the line desired by Jayalalitha in the Bengaluru court, Sasi’s questioning is yet to be completed and Elavarasi and Sudhakaran remain to be questioned.    But will Sasikala, Elavarasi and Sudakaran owing up responsibility save Jaya ?
Legal experts who are closely following the case say that Jaya and Sasikala are under a wrong impression that Sasi’s answers to the questions under Section 313 Cr. P.C. would save Jayalalitha from the assets case.  
The fact is that, In cases of assets disproportionate to known sources of income, the allegation and case revolves only around the public servant – Jayalalitha. The charges faced by Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran are that they aided and abetted the public servant in accumulating assets which are disproportionate. The onus of proving that the assets are acquired by Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudakaran on their own resources should be backed by proper and strong documentary evidence. To put it in simple terms, Sasikala should have shown proportionate income in her Income Tax returns to support her claim that she got the assets in her own name. It is pertinent to note that Sasikala had only completed matric and she had sought documents in Tamil. It would be too farfetched to prove to the Court that Sasikala, who was running a video cassette renting shop suddenly became an entrepreneur and  started earning crores of rupees after Jayalalitha became Chief Minister in 1991. Moreover, whatever Sasi claims should be supported by documentary evidence in the form of Income Tax returns, Sales Tax returns, etc.  Sasi’s claim to save Jayalalitha that Jayalalitha is only a dormant partner should also be supported by documents in the form of Memorandum of Association of Sasi Enterprises.  In the absence of documents to support Sasi’s version, her claim is liable to be rejected by the Court.
Supreme Court lawyers and Legal experts also say, the questioning of accused under Section 313 Criminal Procedure Code is a procedure which gives an opportunity to the accused to explain the evidence that has been adduced against him / her by the prosecution.  It is not a procedure to come up with a fresh theory in the trial at the eleventh hour. And the explanation of the accused doesn’t carry any evidentiary value also. 
Senior advocates of the Supreme Court point out this order by the Delhi High Court in V.S.Yadav Vs. Reena case. Which elicited the evidentiary value of the explanation of the accused under section 313 Cr. P.C.   The Judge Shiv Narayan Dhingra observed that “It must be borne in mind that the statement of accused under Section 281 Cr. P.C. or under Section 313 Cr. P.C. is not the evidence of the accused and it cannot be read as part of evidence. The accused has an option to examine himself as a witness. Where the accused does not examine himself as a witness, his statement under Section 281 Cr. P.C. or 313 Cr. P.C. cannot be read as evidence of the accused and it has to be looked into only as an explanation of the incriminating circumstance and not as evidence. There is no presumption of law that explanation given by the accused was truthful.”
Now Sasikala has answered only 40 questions and still there are more than 300 to be answered. 
Such being the legal position whether the volte face of Sasikala at the fag end of the trial would help Jayalalitha or not is a million dollar question.
P.S :  Amma is set to face another huge problem next week.  Keep watching these columns for details.