The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday told the Madras High Court that late chief minister Jayalalithaa was not a convict in the wealth case after the Supreme Court had abated charges against her and hence, there was no bar on constructing a memorial for her.
State Advocate General Vijay Narayan made the submission before a bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam during the hearing of a petition opposing the memorial, coming up on the Marina Beach in Chennai.
The bench reserved orders on the petition by advocate ML Ravi after hearing the arguments.
The petitioner contended Jayalalithaa had been convicted in the case and hence the Tamil Nadu government should not build a memorial for her.
Countering the petition, Tamil Nadu's counsel submitted that Jayalalithaa was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in the case in which she had been accused of holding wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income during 1991-96 when she held the office of chief minister for the first time.
The Supreme Court in its February, 2017 order on the appeal against the high court verdict had abated the charges against Jayalalithaa in view of her death on December 5, 2016 and convicted others.
Therefore, she was not a convict and hence, there was no bar on the government building a memorial for her, Mr Narayan submitted.
Citing existing memorials for late chief ministers including CN Annadurai and MG Ramachandran, he argued that Jayalalithaa being a six-time chief minister and a popular leader was also entitled to a memorial.
Replying to the argument that about Rs 50 crore public money was being spent on the construction of the memorial, the state's counsel said this was a matter where no public interest was involved.
Almost all the leaders throughout the world have memorials and the people have accepted them.
He informed the court that the construction of the memorial would be completed by March, 2019.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had on May 7 this year laid the foundation stone for the memorial near Jayalalithaa's burial site on the Marina beach front.