The cases that drew the 61-year-old out of her prison cell in a Bengaluru jail was registered for violation of foreign exchange rules in the mid-1990s. This is during J Jayalalithaa's first term as chief minister, around the same time the AIADMK matriarch had collected crores in unaccounted wealth.
The proceedings against Jayalalithaa for corruption abated after her death in December last year. Sasikala was, however, convicted for four years in jail in February this year, just days before she hoped to become Tamil Nadu's chief minister.
But she continues to be the AIADMK chief and runs the party though her proxy, nephew TTV Dinakaran who is also the most frequent visitor to the jail. Mr Dinakaran has met her thrice this month alone, reportedly to seek her guidance on how to regain control of the party after his release from Delhi's Tihar jail, also on corruption charges.
Wednesday's hearing in the Chennai court that framed charges against her is the first time that she has been sighted after moving to a Bengaluru jail. She attended the court hearing through video conferencing, news agency Press Trust of India said. The court had accepted her request to appear through video conferencing.
In one of the cases probed by the Enforcement Directorate, Sasikala is alleged to have committed foreign exchange violations in payment for a transponder and uplinking charges for the erstwhile JJ TV channel. The Centre's probe agency for financial crimes had alleged the money was illegally routed through firms in the Philippines and Singapore.
In 2015, a court had ruled that there was no evidence against her but the Madras High Court rejected this finding, and decided that she should be put on trial.