Karnataka appoints Special Public Prosecutor to dispose of movable assets of Jayalalithaa

The 1996 disproportionate assets case was transferred to Karnataka from TN by the Supreme Court in 2003, which led to her conviction in 2014.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 09, 2023 | 2:55 PMUpdatedApr 09, 2023 | 2:56 PM

Late Jayalalitha's memorial

The Karnataka government’s Law Department has appointed advocate Kiran S Javali as the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) to dispose of the movable properties of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa that were seized in the disproportionate assets (DA) case against her.

The notification for the appointment was issued on 27 March.

The 1996 disproportionate assets case was transferred to Karnataka from Tamil Nadu by the Supreme Court in 2003 which led to her conviction by a special court for CBI cases in 2014.

The assets were seized from Jayalalithaa’s residence on 11 December, 1996.

Also read: Stop with the conspiracy theories! Let J Jayalalithaa rest in peace

CBI wrote to Registrar General

The CBI had written to the Registrar General of the Karnataka High Court in October 2022 about the need for a Special Public Prosecutor to dispose of movable assets.

RTI activist T Narasimhamurthy had approached the special court seeking details of disposing of the assets seized in the case. He had also sought information from the public information office which was directed by the court to provide him the details.

The material evidence seized from Jayalalithaa’s residence in Chennai is currently in the custody of the Karnataka government.

These include 7 kilograms of gold and diamond ornaments, 600 kilograms of silver ornaments, over 11,000 sarees, 750 footwear, 91 watches, 131 suitcases, 1,040 video cassettes, electrical goods including air-conditioners and refrigerators and other pieces of clothing.

They are part of a huge cache of clothes, furniture, jewellery, home appliances, and other paraphernalia locked up in the Karnataka treasury — situated on the ground floor of Vidhana Soudha — for more than a quarter of a century now.

The total value of these assets? Around ₹66 crore. And that was the assessment 26 years ago!

The list itself enumerates the items confiscated by authorities during the high-profile Disproportionate Assets (DA) case from 1996 involving the late former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, Ilavarsi, and VN Sudhakaran.

All four were convicted in the case by the Supreme Court in 2014, and even served their sentence of four years of simple imprisonment.

Also read: What will happen to assets seized from Jayalalithaa?

What will happen to the assets?

Narasimhamurthy has filed several petitions and RTI applications to that end.

“Since these seizures were made in a DA case, the convicts will not be able to reclaim the seized property,” he explained to South First.

“Moreover, as one of the claimants and the prime accused — Jayalalithaa — is no more, the seized properties now belong to the government.”

He added: “The seized properties have been left unattended — left to perish — for more than 26 years at the treasury. If they are not disposed of wisely, it would be a national waste.”

Quoting silk experts, the RTI activist told South First: “Expensive silk sarees that weigh more than regular sarees have to be taken out of their shelves or cupboards and folded back inside-out or in the opposite way. That is also the case with designer shawls.”

He added: “The decorated leather sandals should be taken out and dusted regularly. The moisture content of the treasury room needs to be checked. It should also be ensured that the treasury is free of rats, roaches, and other pests.”

If these items had been stored without care over the past 26 years, the colours would fade, and the quality of the fabric would deteriorate over time, explained Nrasimhamurthy.

On 17 January, the Principal City Civil and Sessions Judge and the First Appellate Authority in Bengaluru — Ramachandra D Huddar — heard the RTI appeal filed by Narasimhamurthy and allowed it.

He also directed the Public Information Official (city civil court) to furnish the information along with the final order portion in the judgement Spl CC No 208/2004 and also copies of the correspondence by the court in seeking the appointment of a Special Public Prosecutor for considering the aspect of the disposal of the properties by it.

(With PTI inputs)