Long-time Jayalalithaa aide VK Sasikala has been found guilty of corruption by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case and will have to surrender to the police in Chennai so that she can be jailed for four years.
She and the other accused will be soon taken into custody for serving out the remaining four years of their sentence. They will also have to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore each.
This ends her high-decibel and divisive bid to be Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu - she is now barred from contesting an election for the next ten years.
At 10:30 am today, two judges of the Supreme Court delivered their ruling separately, but agreed that Sasikala had, in the early 90's, accumulated an illicit fortune, reports NDTV.
The case was originally pivoted on J Jayalalithaa, the four-term Chief Minister who Ms Sasikala lived with, but because she died in December, the judgement does not detail her role. However, the finding rips a huge role through the legacy of Ms Jayalalithaa, beloved "Amma" to lakhs of supporters who accorded her deity-like status and treated her with religious fervor. The case was premised on the fact that during her first term, Jayalalithaa misused her office to accrue 60 cores of assets in a shared fortune with Sasikala and her male relatives, who were later disowned by Amma.
As the verdict was delivered, Sasikaka was at a resort on the outskirts of Chennai, where about 120 legislators from her party, the ruling AIADMK, have been stationed for a week to prevent them from switching allegiance to her rival, O Panneerselvam, who took over as Chief Minister after the death of Jayalalithaa, who was his mentor. OPS, as he is known, had refused party orders to facilitate the promotion of Sasikala to the state's top job. Instead, like her, he petitioned Governor C Vidyasagar Rao for the right to take a trust vote in the legislature to prove he is the rightful head of government.
To win, 117 votes are needed.
Sasikala's faction, which has about 125 of the party's 134 MLAs, will now have to elect a new leader who will approach the Governor with a new request for the opportunity to prove his or her majority.
"In the past whenever Amma was in crisis, I also suffered this time also I will take it upon me. 'Dharma' will win", said Sasikala after the verdict, according to ANI, which cited AIADMK sources.
The verdict disqualifies Sasikala from becoming a legislator, and consequentially she can't be chief minister either. This also gives caretaker Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam a huge boost in staking claim to be the legitimate successor to Jayalalithaa, who passed away in December.
Sasikala had staked the claim to be Tamil Nadu chief minister over Panneerselvam. His supporters thronged his residence after the SC decision.