World Indian politician acquitted of corruption charges

Indian politician acquitted of corruption charges

 

Jayaram Jayalalitha
Jayaram Jayalalitha

(AA) – One of India’s most high-profile regional leaders has been acquitted of corruption charges on Monday. 

The Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa, former chief minister of southern state Tamil Nadu, from a $10 million disproportionate assets case, after a lower court had earlier found her guilty.

Three of her colleagues were also cleared of corruption charges by the high court. 

Judge C R Kumaraswamy set aside last year’s conviction by a special court, paving way for Jayalalithaa to return as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time. 

Special public prosecutor BV Acharya told reporters that they have been denied the opportunity to make “oral arguments.”

Thousands of her party’s workers lit firecrackers and shouted slogans in support of Jayalalithaa outside her Chennai residence and the Karnataka High Court in Bengaluru. 

Some of her party lawmakers in India’s parliament broke down on live television upon hearing the news of the acquittal. 

In September 2014, a special court in Bengaluru had sentenced Jayalalithaa to four years in jail in a 19 year-old disproportionate assets case.

The special court judge John Michael D’Cunha had imposed a $16 million fine on the four-time chief minister. As the sentence was greater than two years, it disqualified Jayalalithaa from the chief minister’s post, making her the first chief minister to be disqualified.

The ruling was described as a “political vendetta” by her party members. 

The 19-year old case against Jayalalithaa was filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy who had alleged that the chief minister had amassed wealth disproportionate to her income between 1991 and 1996, her first tenure as the chief minister.

Jayalalithaa is a powerful political figure in Southern India. Her party won 37 of 39 Tamil Nadu seats in the May 2014 elections for the lower house of the Indian parliament.

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