Greed knows no limits!
By M.Y. Siddiqui
The Supreme Court’s recent judgment upholding the trial court conviction in the 21 year long disproportionate assets case by setting aside the Karnataka High Court orders of May 11, 2015, having convicted the deceased Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalalitha, her close friend V.K.Sasikala along with two other relatives of Sasikala for having amassed disproportionate assets of Rs. 66.65 crore to their known sources of income during Jayalalitha’s first term as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996, disqualification of Sasikala for ten years from contesting elections, her imprisonment for four years, appointment of Sasikala’s nominee Edappadi K. Planiswami, AIDMK Party Headquarter Secretary, a trusted aid of Sasikala, as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, points to multi-dimensional corrupt means for amassing unfathomable huge assets through gross misuse of public office and close proximity to power that be. This also dashed hopes of Sasikala from holding public office.
The impugned apex court judgment has put once again focus on public office and political class, their greed to amass mind boggling limitless disproportionate assets without bothering about probity in public life and public accountability in our constitutional rule of law based democratic system of governance, where people are sovereign masters and government of the day is accountable to them. A list of properties and assets acquired by Sasikala and her relatives alone, available with this correspondent, indicates diverse businesses in the form of movable and immovable assets, whose portfolios surpass even biggies like Reliance and Tata business houses. The list of total assets illegally owned by Sasikala and her relatives mentions 108 companies, which if monetized by professional valuers, could be in thousands of crores.
Sasikala’s assets together with that of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha makes a reading of unaccounted assets acquired with corrupt means through gross misuse of public office with impunity, whose actual size cannot be gauged, much less described in a short piece like this. The list indicates a tip of the iceberg of high corruption and malpractices by the late CM and her trusted cohorts and their relatives. A look at Jayalalitha’s assets, as listed here, points to much higher disproportionate assets acquired by her during her subsequent terms as CM, which if valued in monetary denomination, will be of thousands of crores. No wonder, Tamil Nadu has been described as the most corrupt state in the country according to a survey by NCAER in 2015.
List of Jayalalitha’s huge assets, as available, comprises 1197 acres of land in Trinulveli, 200 acres in Valajapetta, 100 acres in Ottukkotta, 25 acres in Shiruthavoor, 200 acres and another farm of 100 acres in Kancheepuram, 14.5 acres of grape garden in Jeedimetta village in Ranga Reddy district of Telengana, Kodanaud Tea Estate of 1600 acres and bungalows in Nilgiri. In addition, she had a sprawling 24000 square feet residential property, Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden valued at over 100 crore at Chennai, four commercial buildings including one each in Chennai and Hyderabad.
Her other assets included 800 kilo gram silver, 28 kilo gram gold, 750 pairs of shoes, 10,500 sarees, 91 luxury watches and other valuables. She also held a fleet of vehicles that included two high-end Toyota Prado SUVs, a Tempo Traveller, a Tempo Trax, a Mahindra Jeep, an Ambassador car, a Mahindra Bolero, a Swaraj Mazda Maxi and a Contessa. These vehicles were listed in her personal fleet in 1997. Her other benami properties and subsequent additions are yet to be assessed.
Besides, Jayalalitha had a battery of servants/orderlies, a battalion of officials on wait for her, best hospitals, best health care providers from diverse medical profession from domestic and foreign sources. Despite all the power and pelf that she had, in death Jayalalitha stands indicted, convicted and left alone engraved in the ultimate six feet land on Marina Beach, having left behind the people to ponder over the consequences of endless greed for wealth, power and glory with too much of sounds and fury and signifying nothing. This reveals that in the known human history, no other king or queen, feudal lords, Rajas and Maharajas, despots and dictators acquired so much personal wealth individually, ruthlessly such a cult figure and personal glory as late Jayalalitha, of course, with one exception of the biblical king Solomon, who had conquered the world with enormous wealth, luxury and glory. King Solomon was benevolent and shared his wealth with the people at large.
Moral of the saga of Jayalalitha is that whatever wealth one amasses disproportionally through illegal and foul means, are left behind. The earth born body, however, mighty in one’s life, to earth goethe. The Old Testament describes how pride must have a fall. ‘Dust thou art, To dust thou goethe’. Only a legacy of good deeds remains. Every other things go down the drain.