IT must have been a moment of glory in the life of the Tamil Nadu government's public prosecutor R. Shanmugasundaram. For, in 1995 when Shanmugasundaram, as an eminent Chennai-based lawyer, prepared to file a writ against then chief minister J. Jayalalitha-for purchasing the state-owned Tansi property-he was severely assaulted by the AIADMK goons. Jayalalitha was defeated in 1996, Shanmugasundaram became the public prosecutor and has now managed to get conviction for a person who physically harmed him.
Politically too, it's a very significant judgement. By convicting former CM Jayalalitha and her close friend Sasikala Natarajan in the Tansi land deal cases, the special court has not merely put Jayalalitha's future in a bind but has also raised questions over the political fortunes of the AIADMK.
Special judge P. Anbazhagan sentenced the AIADMK supremo and her friend, concurrently, to three years and two years of rigorous imprisonment in two different cases. Two companies-Jaya Publications and Sasi Enterprises-in which Jayalalitha and Sasikala are equal partners, had in 1992 purchased government-owned Tansi land well below the market rates by influencing the tender proceedings. She was charged with causing a loss of Rs 4.16 crore to the government. The special court has found Jayalalitha guilty on four counts: conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, abuse of power to obtain monetary gain under the ipc and Prevention of Corruption Act.
There are two opinions about the legal implications. Under Section 8, sub-section 3 of the Representation of the People's Act, "a person convicted to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release." However, the grey area is what would Jayalalitha's fate be if a stay is...