Bangalore: J Jayalalithaa answered hundreds of questions in a Bangalore trial court over two days, then signed each question she answered, before leaving for Chennai on Friday evening. Questioning is not over in the Rs 66-crore disproportionate assets case against her. The judge has posted the matter for November 8 now.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, who came to Bangalore reluctantly, was smiling as she left for home. And not just because her party, the AIADMK had swept local body elections in Tamil Nadu. Ms Jayalalithaa looked happy with the way she presented her case before the trial court. Her counsel said she would like to move the Supreme Court to avoid more personal appearances in the case.
Like yesterday, Ms Jayalalithaa sat right next to the judge today in court and sources said she gave precise answers to most of the 300 questions she was asked. The sources said, to many questions she said, "I don't know" or "I don't have the knowledge" and stuck to her stand that the case had been filed for political vendetta. There were only about 15 people inside the courtroom. The Tamil Nadu CM had answered 379 questions yesterday.
On both days Ms Jayalalithaa flew in from Chennai in time to appear in court. She had opted not to stay overnight in Bangalore last evening when it became clear that court proceedings would spill over to today. The case being heard dates back to 1996 and Thursday was the first time that Ms Jayalalithaa appeared before this trial court.
As she drove up from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airport, where her special aircraft landed, to the courthouse today, Ms Jayalalithaa, sources said was is in a better frame of mind than she had been yesterday. This because back home, her party, the AIADMK, is leading in a local body election.
The CM also traveled lighter today. Only two ministers accompanied her to Bangalore. The rest of the large contingent that was in the city yesterday, has returned to Chennai. (In Pics: Jayalalithaa's political journey)
A reluctant Ms Jayalalithaa was ordered by the Supreme Court to appear in the Bangalore trial court. The apex court rejected her appeal for exemption twice, and ruled that her apprehensions about inadequate security were misplaced.
Karnataka kept its promise of providing adequate security over the two days that saw the neighbour Chief Minister visit. On both days, the 65-km route from the HAL airport to the special court opposite Bangalore's Central Jail was sanitised. National Security Guard commandos and 1,500 police personnel from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were on duty for her visit. Of these 500 cops from her state formed the inner ring of security. (Twitter Buzz)
It was DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi's government that took Ms Jayalalithaa to court as it came to power in 1996, accusing her of amassing assets worth Rs. 66 crores disproportionate to her knows sources of income, by misusing her term in office from 1991 to 1996. The case was transferred from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka in 2003 after the DMK said a free and fair trial was unlikely in her own state. Ms Jayalalithaa has dismissed the charges against her as political vendetta. (What is the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa?)
In the last few weeks, Ms Jayalalithaa asked the Supreme Court twice to exempt her from a personal appearance in court. She said the Karnataka government had not made enough security arrangements for her visit, and that the airport was too far from the court. Both reasons were rejected by the Supreme Court.
Among the assets under scrutiny in the case are farm houses and bungalows in Chennai; vast tracts of agricultural land in Tamil Nadu; a farm house in Hyderabad; a tea estate in the Nilgiris; jewelry worth crores of rupees; industrial sheds; cash in banks and investments; and a fleet of luxury cars.