India’s Supreme Court damns Tamil Nadu’s Jayalalithaa in death and holds her ‘mastermind of public corruption’ Things nearly went a little too far in the manner succession takes place in the Asian region when a charismatic leader bids the world the last farewell. Lanka started the trend first when Sirimavo Bandaranaike was called from her [...]


Pretender to Jaya’s corrupt throne, Sasi’s power lust jailed for ten years


  • India’s Supreme Court damns Tamil Nadu’s Jayalalithaa in death and holds her ‘mastermind of public corruption’

Things nearly went a little too far in the manner succession takes place in the Asian region when a charismatic leader bids the world the last farewell. Lanka started the trend first when Sirimavo Bandaranaike was called from her Rosmead Place residence to Temple Trees to assume the premiership following the assassination of her husband SWRD. India went a step further when upon the death of her Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira seamlessly stepped into his PM Mojaris. The same with Pakistan, when Benazir became Prime Minister a few years after her father Bhutto was hanged. Ditto for Bangladesh, when President Zia was assassinated and his wife Khaleda became prime minister, albeit, a decade later, riding on his name.

DIAMONDS ARE WOMEN’S BEST FRIENDS: Jayalalithaa and Sasikala both wear waist belts each weighing 1,044 gm bedecked with 2,389 diamonds, 18 emeralds and 9 rubies at Jaya’s adopted son’s opulent wedding bash

But this is the first time that an attempt was made – even though in a federal state and not a nation, still a state of 77 million Tamils – to pass the mantle upon the leader’s death to her housemaid. And make her chief minister of a populace two and a half times the population of Lanka.
For the last 33 years, Sasikala had followed in the shadow of her madam, Tamil Nadu’s former chief minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the Great Amma, worshipped as a living goddess by the adulating Tamil Nadu voters.

Together they had walked twice to prison on charges of corruption. This week Sasikala walked alone. To be imprisoned for four years, and banned from contesting any political election for a further six. In effect, to be exiled to the political wilderness for ten years.Like the Greek Icarus, Tamil Nadu’s Sasikala had dared to soar too near to the sun of justice. And crash-landed in jail when her waxed wings of ambition soon melted before its awesome heat.

Her rise and fall is the stuff worthy of a chapter in India’s book of books, the Mahabharata, as a striking illustration of how an audacious attempt to tempt the fates with such impunity, attracts the hubris of the gods.

Thirty years ago she had been a non entity, running a small video renting parlour in the back streets of Chennai. An introduction to Jayalalithaa, arranged through a mutual acquaintance, led her to produce a short video on Jayalalithaa showing her receiving the adulation of her servile voters. A friendship bloomed and Sasikala was soon ensconced at Jayalalithaa’s Poe Gardens residence to run the household as the live-in maid while Madam Jaya attended to her politics.

But Shashikala was not merely pilfering the groceries in Jayalalithaa’s kitchen cabinet. In collusion with the landlady, she was robbing the Tamil Nadu state of millions of public money whilst, at the same time, systematically stealing, slice by slice, Jayalalithaa’s political power to claim the chief minister mantle upon her death.

In 2014, a trial court judge in Karnataka had convicted both Jayalalitha and Shashikala to four years in jail for corruption. Jayalalitha, for not being able to account for a fortune of 600 million Indian rupees: and Sasikala for aiding and abetting. They only spent a few months in jail. A Karnataka high court judge, hearing their appeal, overturned the conviction and acquitted them of all charges, in an amazing judgement that made India’s legal fraternity smell of dry fish.

The Karnataka State appealed against the acquittals to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court announced it will deliver its judgement this week. With Jayalalitha already dead, it was left to Sasikala to face the music alone. And with the Damocles Sword of Justice waiting to fall on her head with the anticipated Supreme Court verdict of guilt, she determined to capture political power by aiming to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in the misplaced belief that political power in Tamil Nadu would stand her in good stead to defy the judicial supremacy of all India.

As chief minister of India’s second largest state economy she could meet the verdict of the courts from a position of strength and would have the political chips to perhaps strike a horse deal with the centre. Shorn of the chief minister mane, she would be stripped naked, reduced to a sitting duck for the wolf pack to pounce and mercilessly tear her to shreds. Political power could tip the scales.

But isn’t that the common mentality of all corrupt politicians in Lanka, too, thrown out office for corruption, to think that a foot in at Parliament’s door, a seat on its benches, and placement on the political pedestal, however low the stature, can ward off the day of judgement?
Perhaps the ploy doesn’t work in India in quite the same way it seems to have worked for corrupt politicians in Lanka. But for desperate Jayalalithaa protégé, Sasikala facing jail for aiding and abetting Jayalalithaa to amass a private fortune of over 600 million Indian rupees, it may have been the last straw to clutch at, whilst drowning in the sewers of corruption.

She had been the woman behind Jayalalithaa’s throne. And upon Jayalalithaa’s death and with the throne vacant, she romanced politics to wed the right to sit on it. Not even 24 days after Jayalalithaa’s death in December, she became elected as the ruling AIDMK’s General Secretary. The next step in her plan was to become the Chief Minister of the Tamil Nadu State.

But her attempts to imitate her Sinhala counterparts across the Palk Strait whose success in sheathing themselves in the armour of politics have so far kept them out of the Welikada gates, came to nought when her sins came before the Supreme Court of India for final judgement.
But it nearly did succeed. If the Tamil Nadu Governor had not delayed inviting her as Chief Minister to rule over 50 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu, had he not tarried his invite until the Supreme Court of India had delivered her just deserts contained in a Valentine’s Day ‘ Go to Jail’ card, perhaps her recent forays to covet political power as a means to gain immunity or special treatment at least, for her corruption crimes in the belief, Lanka style, that using the power of ill gotten gains of corruptions could conceal corruption sins forever, would perhaps have borne fruit.

Sasikala was no different. With money out of the equation to guarantee an acquittal, with the Karnataka High Court judge not the sole judge of the Supreme Court bench, the last hope for Sasikala was to play the political trump card the Chief Minister ship of TN would deal her. But the State Governor, by his delay, frustrated her hopes; and the Supreme Court, by its verdict, put paid to her wishes.

In a 530 page judgment, the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday unanimously and unequivocally overturned the Karnataka judge’s decision to acquit both Sasikala and Jayalalitha of all charges and restored in full the original trial judge’s verdict of guilt. It damned Jayalalitha in death and Sasikala in life. The would be chief minister of Tamil Nadu, who had herded 124 loyalist members of the Tamil Nadu State Assembly into a bus last week and, having transported them to a 5 star resort hotel 80 km from Chennai, held them incommunicado to prevent her opponents from getting access to them and persuading them to pole vault, was sentenced to four years in prison and banned thereafter from contesting any political post for a further six years. That put a temporary end to the political ambitions of a woman who had dared to rise from Jayalalithaa’s domestic staff to rule as demagogue over the lives of 50 million Tamils.

The Judges condemned both madam and maid in no uncertain terms. They held that “Jayalalithaa did not accommodate Sasikala at Poes Garden out of some “philanthropic urge” but with cold-blooded calculation to keep herself secure from any legal complications, which may arise from their criminal activities”

“Attendant facts and circumstances encountered in this case demonstrate a deep-rooted conspiratorial design to amass vast assets without any compunction and hold the same through shell entities to cover up the sinister trail of such illicit acquisitions and deceived and delude the process of law,” Justice Roy wrote in a separate concurring judgment, expressing “deep concern about the escalating corruption in the society.” He held the case was “startling” in the way corruption was carried out by the accused persons with sheer impunity.

In 1991, the assets of the accused were valued at Indian Rs. 20 million. By 1996, the accused were worth a whopping Indian Rs. 640 million. The court ruled that Jayalalithaa as a mastermind who misused her public office, who “masked banking exchanges”, who acquired “vast tracts of land” for pittances and conspired with her co-accused at Poes Garden only to later “feign ignorance” about any crime committed. “Facts and circumstances proved in evidence undoubtedly point out that Sasikala was accommodated in the house of Jayalalithaa pursuant to the criminal conspiracy hatched by them to hold the assets of Jayalalithaa ,” the court held.

But gods are immortal. Despite this damning indictment on Jayalalithaa, revered as the Great Amma, whose photographs are still hung in the shrine rooms of people’s homes and who is still worshipped as a household God, AIDMKA party loyalists and millions of Tamil Nadu citizens still revere Jayalalithaa as a goddess and her conspirator in corruption, Sasikala, as her avatar.

Had it not been for her death in December, Jayalalithaa, too, would have been in prison today, sharing it with Sasikala. Two soul mates in crime turned cellmates in jail. But it’s too early to write off Sasikala. Though condemned to a non AC cell and reduced to earning Rs 50 a day making candles in jail, she may still be the de facto chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Her proxy to the post, die hard Jaya loyalist, Edappadi Palaniswamy was sworn in as Chief Minister on Thursday. He won because Sasikala ensured that 124 Members of the Legislative Assembly(MLA) extended their support to him and not to the previous chief minister Panneerselvam, another die hard Jayalalitha devotee, who ran afoul of Sasikala and had to resign recently from the post as a result.

Thus, while Lanka’s joint opposition, with its block vote of 40 or so MPs still loyal to Rajapaksa, tries, from the outside, to stay the government’s hand in its corruption crackdown, 61 year old corruption convict Sasikala ensures, through her proxy and 124 MLAs, that her fiat runs through the Tamil Nadu State from the inside of her non air-conditioned cell. Certainly for Sasikala, four walls do not a prison make.

JALLIGUD! Thonda wins car with his Tamil Nadu stud bull

WINNING BULL: Thonda’s pride and joy declared winner in controversial blood sport

Horns off to Senthil Thondaman, the grandson of Savumiamoorthy Thondaman and the son of Arumugam Thondaman for the efforts taken to ensure his prized bull won the Jallikattu cup in India when it was adjudged the best bull in the festive event. And earned its owner Thondaman junior – the provincial minister for Estate Infrastructure of the Uva provincial council – a Maruti car for him to drive and a sacred cow, presumably, for his bull to ride.

Jallikattu contests had been banned for some years in the state of Tamil Nadu due to protests by animal rights activists for the cruelty the blood sport inflicts on the participating bulls. It involves releasing a bull into a crowd of people who must try to grab its hump and ride it as long as possible. Before the bull is released to the crowd, it is often prodded with sharp sticks or scythes. Sometimes there is extreme bending of the tail and even biting of the bull’s tail to goad it into action. This year, however, the state lifted the ban.

But can the same charge of cruelty to animals be levelled against the bull breeding Senthil? Perhaps not. Not when you consider his declared loves for bulls. Whilst the people, who voted him provincial minister of Uva, sweat it out in their line rooms waiting for the better tomorrow promised to them by Senthil’s grandfather and father, young Senthil is providing his prized stock of bulls air conditioned luxury buses to transport them from venue to venue.

As he says: “It’s necessary to keep them in comfort so that they are not stressed out. We treat the bulls like our family members. They have separate rooms and a swimming pool for the bulls. As swimming is the best exercise to make them strong, a tank was converted into an exclusive pool so that they can swim around without risking injuries.”He also says that his family’s roots lie in the Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu where his forefathers were bull breeders. Proudly he declares that he is just keeping the family tradition of bull breeding alive. How very true.

Whilst congratulating him on his bull breeding success and appreciating his untiring efforts to keep his prized bulls happy in alpine air and doing the breast stroke in swimming pools, it must also be said to his family’s credit that he and his forefathers have not only been successful in breeding Jallikattu bulls in Tamil Nadu but been more than successful in breeding a whole herd of vote giving cattle grazing amidst the tea bushes in their domiciled land of Lanka who still line tamely to vote for the family crest, even without a whiff of the mountainous air or a drop of pipe borne water to relieve themselves of the stress poverty invariable creates.

‘Wife is my keeper’ says SB
Oh lucky man! How happy and loaded S.B. Dissanayake must be this Sunday to know that he doesn’t have to count his rupees and cents but only his blessings to make ends meet. And that is purely because his wife slips ‘something’ in his pocket each morning to see him comfortably through the day.

And as for the monthly salary he gets for being a minister of the government paid for by the people of this country, why, he doesn’t give a tuppence or toss for it. He never even opens the pay packet; neither does he look at the figure totted up in his pay sheet – simply because he has no time to bother about such ‘small’ trifles.

MINISTER SB: Wife gives ‘something’ to help him make it through the day

Addressing a news conference recently, he told the media personnel, “We only get small salaries and I don’t even know the amount. My wife puts some money to my pocket every day and that’s what I spend. I don’t look at the pay sheet. I simply don’t have time to even look at it. There no need for me to look at it. My wife takes care of all those things.”

Wife takes care of all those things?
Nay, if he is the honest bloke he says he is, and has no other undeclared income, and he says he has none, he should remember that it’s the public of this country who puts the money into his wife’s handbag that takes care of that ‘something’ in his hip pocket. And that he should be more appreciative of the public’s contribution to keep him in the lolly and in the style he is accustomed to, not forgetting the luxury vehicles he says he cannot do without for the comfort and well being of his body, rather than mocking it in contempt by saying he does not care even to find out how much the public sacrifice is.

Or else, in the face of such crass unappreciativeness and gross ingratitude, the public will have no alternative but to draw the conclusion that they are throwing pearls before swine and, come 2020, send him back to dwell in his Hanguranketa luxury mansion and enjoy the kingly treasure he once claimed he found buried on that property.

‘Your wishes, my commands’: What phantom CJ told President Sirisena

MOHAN PEIRIS: Why the president made him the Phantom of the court

President Sirisena revealed on Thursday some stunning stuff about former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris and the unbecoming level he went to retain his position as the nation’s Chief Justice.

Whilst addressing a public meeting at Warakapola, he said: “The day after I was elected as president, the then Chief Justice Mohan Peiris came to meet me at 10.00 pm and told me not to remove him from his post. He said he would deliver his judgments according to my wishes. I told him there was no intention of removing him from his post and told him to leave my residence,”
“But he returned the next day and begged me not to remove him from his post, he said.

Then I realised how these people had been in the habit of giving judgments to suit the previous regime. Therefore, I decided to remove him from his post at once, using my executive powers for the first time.”

Mohan Peiris was not only removed from his post but his entire tenure on the bench as Chief Justice was declared by the new government as null and void. He became Phantom CJ of Hulftsdorp who had not served justice but, like a grateful genie released from its bottle, had carried out every Rajapaksa wish cravenly in gratitude. Sirisena, as his first executive act on becoming president, not only stuffed him back to the bottle but threw the bottle into the sea to sink into the depths of oblivion.

Two months before the 2015 presidential election, the then President Rajapaksa canvassed the opinion of the Supreme Court as to whether he was eligible, despite the 18 amendment which removed his ineligibility, to contest for the third time the presidential election. Peiris’ opinion which was delivered to him has never been revealed to the nation on the grounds of privilege and confidentiality.
But what did he opine? Did he caution Rajapaksa against it? Or did he, as the sycophant he was then, give him the Supreme Court ‘all clear’ to take the plunge without fear of legal rocks below the water?

Perhaps the Right to Information Law which was officially made accessible to the public on Friday may now offer a way to find out what the Phantom judge held in his last important judgment. Not only for its academic interest. But to determine whether it was Mahinda’s astrologer Sumanadasa with his prediction or Mahinda’s Chief Justice Mohan with his opinion who gave the former president the dead rope to bungy jump from his presidential steeple without delay. That neither starry planets nor legal precedents stood in the way of his leap to defeat.




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