Acquiring assets not a crime unless source of wealth is illegal says Supreme Court


New Delhi: A disproportionate asset per se is not a crime unless it is proved that source of such wealth is illegal says the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The apex court observation came while hearing an appeal by the Karnataka government challenging the acquittal of Tamil Nadhu CM Jayalalithaa, her close aide N Sasikala Natrajan and her two relatives VN Sudhakaran and Elavarasi by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015.

The Bench comprising Justice P C Ghose and Amitava Roy observed that referring the matter back to the High Court would cause injustice to the accused persons. It would mean that the order of the trial court is being upheld, the Bench observed while indicating that this possibility is being ruled out.

Jayalalithaa and others were accused of allegedly amassing disproportionate asserts to the tune of Rs 66.65 crores during her first term as chief minister from 1991 to 1996. After a trial that lasted for 18 years, a trial court in Bangaluru had convicted Jayalalithaa and sentenced her to four-year jail term and a Rs 100 crore fine.

Last month, in a historic victory, Jayalalithaa bucked the trend to beat anti-incumbency – and allegations of corruption – to retain power in Tamil Nadu, a first since 1984. In a coincidence, the AIADMK supreme took oath as Chief Minister for the second time in a span of one year on the same day – May 23. Jayalalithaa had assumed office on May 23, 2015, exactly a year ago, as Chief Minister for the fifth time of the state then following her acquittal.