SC to hear plea today against Sasikala becoming Tamil Nadu CM

A public interest litigation (PIL) was moved in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking to restrain AIADMK leader V K Sasikala from being sworn in as Tamil Nadu chief minister on Tuesday on the ground that the apex court was likely to pronounce within a week its judgment in a corruption case in which she and late CM Jayalalithaa are accused.

The PIL was filed by Chennai resident Senthil Kumar, general secretary of NGO Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, hours after the apex court indicated it could deliver its judgment on the appeals challenging the acquittal of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets case.

The petition is likely to be heard on Tuesday morning. Kumar, who mentioned in the plea that he would argue the matter in person, sought a stay on Sasikala's swearing in, contending that if she was convicted and forced to resign, there was a possibility of riots erupting in Tamil Nadu.

He said law and order may worsen in such an eventuality as the state was already facing a "desperate situation" due to cyclone, demonetisation and the death of Jayalalithaa.

The petitioner claimed in case the appeal against her acquittal results in conviction, the AIADMK workers may once again protest and disturb normal life of Tamil Nadu.

The petitioner said he filed the plea in the interest of people of Tamil Nadu and to maintain the peace in the state.

After Jayalalithaa died on 5 December 2016, Sasikala, who was her close confidante for nearly three decades, was elected general secretary of AIADMK on 29 December and elected leader of its legislature party on Sunday.

Jayalalitha along with her aides Sasikala Natarajan, V N Sudhakaran and J Elavarasi were booked under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code for amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income in 1997.

The trial of the case was shifted by Supreme Court to Bengaluru on a petition filed by a DMK leader and the court there had convicted them on 27 September 2014.

The Karnataka High Court had reversed the Special Court's judgment on 11 May 2015. The Karnataka government had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, which reserved its judgment in June last year.

Earlier in the day, an apex court bench headed by Justice P C Ghose asked senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Karnataka, to wait for a week after he made a mention before it regarding the delay in pronouncement of the verdict.

The apex court had last year, before the demise of Jayalalithaa, reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the the Karnataka HC order of her acquittal.

Sasikala, if sworn in, would have to step down in case of an adverse verdict in the Supreme Court.