Chandrababu Naidu is latest ex-CM to be jailed for corruption: A look at others who spent time behind bars

Before Naidu, several former chief ministers were sentenced to prison for corruption, while some were acquitted and others are still fighting their cases.

BySumit Jha

Published Sep 11, 2023 | 8:00 AMUpdatedSep 11, 2023 | 8:00 AM

Chandrababu Naidu is latest ex-CM to be jailed for corruption: A look at others who spent time behind bars

Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu was remanded to 14 days of judicial custody by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Court in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, 10 September.

This made him the latest in a line of former chief ministers in the country to find themselves behind bars on charges of corruption, even if they were not eventually convicted.

The court’s decision came during a hearing regarding Naidu’s remand report, filed by the Criminal Instigation Department (CID) in connection with his recent arrest in a pre-dawn swoop on Saturday.

Naidu’s arrest is linked to his alleged involvement in the ₹371-crore skill development scam, which purportedly occurred during his tenure as the state’s chief minister from 2014 to 2019.

This development added Naidu to a list of former chief ministers in India who faced corruption charges in recent years, leading to their arrest.

Also read: Chandrababu Naidu sent to 14-day judicial custody

Here are the names of the former chief ministers who faced similar legal consequences:

Convicted chief ministers

1. Lalu Prasad (Bihar)

Lalu Prasad, a prominent Indian politician and former chief minister of Bihar, was sent to jail in connection with the infamous fodder scam.

This corruption case involved the embezzlement of public funds from the Bihar government treasury meant for the purchase of fodder for livestock.

Lalu Prasad — along with several other government officials and politicians — was accused of embezzling a significant amount of public funds over many years.

The funds were intended for the purchase of fodder and other livestock-related expenses, but they were siphoned off through fraudulent means.

Lalu and other officials were accused of creating fake bills to divert these funds for personal and political use. The scandal was exposed in the 1990s, leading to legal proceedings.

In 2013, Lalu Prasad was convicted in one case, sentenced to five years in prison, and disqualified from elected office.

Legal battles ensued, with convictions in multiple cases and ongoing appeals, making it a complex and significant political corruption case in India.

2. J Jayalalithaa

J Jayalalithaa, the late former chief of the AIADMK, was involved in a high-profile corruption case in which she was accused of accumulating assets that were disproportionate to her known means of income during her tenure as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

The allegations included owning vast properties, including homes, jewellery, and other assets, which were believed to be acquired through illicit means.

The case against Jayalalithaa was filed in 1996, and it took several years for the legal proceedings to conclude.

The prosecution argued that her income and assets did not match, indicating corruption and illegal accumulation of wealth.

In 2014, Jayalalithaa was convicted by a special court in Bengaluru and sentenced to four years in prison. She was also fined in the case. Subsequently, she was disqualified as chief minister and had to step down from the position.

Jayalalithaa and her associates appealed the conviction, and the Karnataka High Court acquitted her of all charges in 2015, citing deficiencies in the prosecution’s case. She was subsequently reinstated as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

However, the Karnataka government challenged the high court’s acquittal in the Supreme Court of India.

In February 2017, the Supreme Court overturned the Karnataka High Court’s verdict and upheld the original conviction, finding Jayalalithaa guilty of amassing disproportionate assets.

Jayalalithaa passed away in December 2016, a few months before the Supreme Court’s verdict.

Her death marked the end of the legal proceedings against her, as Indian law does not permit criminal proceedings against deceased individuals.

Related: What will happen to assets seized from Jayalalithaa?

3. Om Prakash Chautala

Om Prakash Chautala, a former chief minister of Haryana, was involved in a corruption case related to the recruitment of teachers in the state.

The case against Chautala was related to irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in Haryana in the early 2000s.

It was alleged that Chautala, during his tenure as chief minister, and other officials engaged in corrupt practices in the selection and appointment of teachers.

Legal action was initiated against Chautala and several other individuals involved in the scam. In January 2013, Chautala and his son Ajay, who was also a prominent politician, were convicted in the case by a Delhi court.

They were found guilty on multiple charges, including cheating, forgery, and corruption. They were sentenced to prison. Om Prakash Chautala received a 10-year prison sentence, while Ajay Chautala received a similar sentence.

Both Om Prakash Chautala and Ajay Chautala appealed their convictions. However, the Delhi High Court upheld their sentences in March 2015, and the Supreme Court rejected their appeals in August 2015.

4. Madhu Koda

Madhu Koda

Madhu Koda, an Independent MLA and MP, was sent to jail in connection with corruption charges during his tenure as the chief minister of Jharkhand.

Koda faced allegations of corruption, money laundering, and amassing disproportionate assets during his time as the chief minister of Jharkhand from 2006 to 2008.

It was alleged that he, along with some associates, had been involved in various corrupt practices, including the allocation of mining leases and the misappropriation of funds.

He was embroiled in a major mining scam in the state. Allegations arose that Koda had accepted substantial bribes for illegally granting iron ore and coal mining contracts during his tenure.

It was estimated that Koda and his associates amassed over ₹4,000 crore through these corrupt practices.

Following an investigation prompted by the Jharkhand High Court, Koda was arrested by the state’s vigilance wing in November 2009.

After spending time in prison, Koda was released on bail in July 2013. However, a special money-laundering court in Delhi attached his properties worth ₹144 crore as part of a disproportionate assets case against his associates.

The court found that these properties were linked to money-laundering offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In December 2017, Madhu Koda was convicted by the court and sentenced to three years in prison, along with a fine of ₹25 lakh. Right now, he is out of jail.

Corruption cases against chief ministers

While some ex-chief ministers in India have been convicted and faced legal consequences, many others have faced corruption cases and have either been acquitted or are fighting them in court.

1. BS Yediyurappa

BS Yediyurappa

BS Yediyurappa, a former chief minister of Karnataka, faced corruption allegations related to illegal land denotification.

He spent around three weeks in prison in 2011 in connection with five cases registered against him.

Yediyurappa would eventually be acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in 2015.

The court would also quash the then-Governor’s nod to the law enforcement authorities to prosecute the Lingayat strongman.

2, 3. M Karunanidhi and MK Stalin

Karunanidhi being arrested in 2001. (Creative Commons)

On the night of 30 June, 2001, in a dramatic turn of events, former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi, then 78 years old, was arrested by the police from his residence.

A televised clip captured the former chief minister being physically handled, pushed, and even assaulted by police officers in his own home.

The pivotal moment that led to the arrest of Karunanidhi and later his son — current Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin — in 2001 was set in motion by a formal complaint.

The FIR at the heart of this controversy originated from a complaint lodged by JCT Acharyalu, who held the position of the Greater Chennai Corporation commissioner at the time.

The core allegation in Acharyalu’s complaint revolved around purported financial losses amounting to ₹12 crore, attributed to the construction of mini-flyovers in the city of Chennai.

The timeline of events is noteworthy. The police complaint was officially lodged at 9 pm on 29 June, 2001. Karunanidhi was arrested mere hours later.

On 30 June, 2001, in the wake of his father’s arrest and a series of dramatic events, Stalin, who was the Madras mayor at the time, surrendered before an additional sessions magistrate.

Interestingly, when Karunanidhi came to power in 2007, the Tamil Nadu Police dropped the cases against both of them.

The police cited “insufficient evidence to pursue the case” as the reason for dropping the mini-flyover case, technically categorised as a “mistake of facts”.

Although an FIR was filed in 2001, a chargesheet was never submitted. The FIR also implicated other individuals, including DMK ministers K Ponmudi and Ko Si Mani, as well as former chief secretary KA Nambiar.

After the DMK returned to power, the CB-CID sought permission from a sessions court to conduct further investigations into the case. However, since no evidence was discovered, the case was subsequently dropped.

Also read: DMK most corrupt, says Amit Shah in Rameswaram

4. Mayawati

Mayawati, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, faced allegations of corruption during her tenure and misuse of government funds during her political career.

In 2003, the CBI initiated a probe into allegations of disproportionate assets acquired by Mayawati during her tenure as chief minister.

However, in 2003, the Supreme Court ordered a stay on the CBI inquiry.

Subsequently, the case remained in various stages of investigation and litigation, and no formal charges were filed against her.

5. Ashok Chavan

Ashok Chavan, the former chief minister of Maharashtra, faced allegations of being involved in the Adarsh Housing Society scam, a high-rise residential building in Mumbai.

The scam revolved around the allocation of flats in this society, which were intended for widows of martyrs and veterans of the Kargil war, but were allegedly allocated to politicians, bureaucrats, and military officers.

It was alleged that Chavan’s relatives were beneficiaries of flats in the society, and there were allegations of quid pro quo between him and the society members.

Under pressure due to the allegations and the controversy surrounding the scam, Ashok Chavan resigned from the post of chief minister of Maharashtra in November 2010.

Chavan was named in the FIR in the case and investigations were initiated. In December 2013, the CBI filed a charge sheet against him, accusing him of criminal conspiracy and cheating.

In 2016, the Bombay High Court set aside the sanction granted by the then Maharashtra Governor for Chavan’s prosecution in the case. However, in February 2018, the Supreme Court directed the CBI to conduct further investigations.

In July 2018, the CBI filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court seeking permission to conduct a fresh probe.

The case against Ashok Chavan is ongoing, and he has not been convicted in connection with the Adarsh Housing Society scam.

Before becoming CM

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, the current chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, faced several legal issues and allegations of corruption before assuming office.

He has not been convicted in any major corruption cases.

He faced a high-profile case that revolved around allegations that he had accumulated disproportionate assets during the tenure of his father, YS Rajasekhar Reddy, as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Jagan was accused of misusing his position for financial gain.

On 27 May, 2012, Jagan was arrested by the CBI on charges related to embezzlement. Furthermore, both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) looked into 58 companies that had invested in Jagan’s enterprises, alleging that these investments were made in exchange for mining leases and project allocations.

During the course of the investigation, Jagan’s judicial custody was repeatedly extended as legal proceedings continued. His bail petitions were dismissed by the Supreme Court on multiple occasions, specifically on 4 July, 9 August, and 7 November in 2012, and 9 May and 13 May in 2013.

He was finally released from jail on 24 September, 2013.

Also read: Jagan Mohan a traitor to Rayalseema, says Chandrababu Naidu