Chennai: The Madras High Court on Wednesday declared J Deepak and J Deepa as the Class II legal heirs of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and suggested to the government that it convert part of the latter's residence as a memorial.
The court also suggested that part of Jayalalithaa's residence 'Veda Nilayam' could be used as the chief minister's office.
The two-member bench consisting of Justice N Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose gave its rulings in two cases - one filed by Deepak to declare him and his sister Deepa as the legal heirs of Jayalalithaa and the other, an appeal filed by K Pugazhenthi and P.Janakiraman said to be members of the ruling AIADMK party.
Deciding on the petition filed by Deepak to declare him and Deepa as the legal heirs of Jayalalithaa, the court held that they are class-II legal heirs of Jayalalithaa being the son and daughter of Jayalalithaa's brother J Jayakumar.
According to the order, Deepak and Deepa had appeared before the court and stated that they were born and brought up in Poes Garden house of Jayalalithaa but were denied entry into that house by the security during the lifetime of their aunt.
Even after her demise, they could not enter the property. The two also told the court of their intention to create a trust making use of some of the properties which are to be decided by them later in the name of their late aunt "Dr J Jayalalithaa" for public purposes to do service to the general public.
The court said Deepak and Deepa are entitled to the Letters of Administration in respect of the estate held individually by Jayalalithaa or in the names of the firms or companies and the credits of the late chief minister.
The court also ordered that Deepak and Deepa shall allot a few properties, according to their discretion, and create a registered Public Trust in the name of their late aunt for the purpose of doing public and social service, as per their affidavits filed before it, within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
Speaking to a television channel, Deepa expressed her happiness at the court order. She said the credit for this should go to her brother Deepak.
Deepa told the television channel that the next course of action will be discussed.
While dismissing the appeal filed by Pugazenthi and Janakiraman, the court also said the Tamil Nadu government shall consider and decide on its suggestion to avoid making Jayalalithaa's residence Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden locality a memorial by acquiring the property, as it would incur huge expenses to the public exchequer.
The court also said the state government shall consider converting Jayalalithaa's residence as "Official Residence-cum-Office of Chief Minister of the State" after acquiring the property as per law, after issuing notice and hearing Deepa and Deepak.
The state government may consider the suggestion of the court to convert a portion of the property as memorial in the memory of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and rest of the property as "Official Residence-cum-Office of the Chief Minister of the State", the court said.
The court also directed the state government to provide round the clock security to Deepa and Deepak and the cost of the security should be met by the two by liquidating any one of the properties of Jaylalithaa.
The judgement comes days after the Tamil Nadu government promulgated an ordinance to take temporary possession of Jayalalithaa's residence located here.
The government said Jayalalithaa's residence will be converted into a memorial.
According to the government, the ordinance will enable setting up of Puratchi Thalaivi Dr J Jayalalithaa Memorial Foundation for the purpose to be headed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and also include Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and others as members.
Palaniswami had earlier announced the government's decision to convert Jayalalithaa's residence into a memorial.
The government said the building and all the movable properties at Veda Nilayam - furniture, jewels, books and others - are in a state of disuse. Hence all the immovable and movable properties are transferred to the government for proper upkeep until the acquisition process is fully completed.
The state government on May 6 issued the notification under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquistion, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 for acquisition of Veda Nilayam.
According to the notification, the project does not involve the displacement of families/relocation.
However, objecting to the acquisition of Veda Nilayam by the government, Deepa had filed a case in the Madras High Court.
The residents of the Poes Garden had also opposed the government's move.
Jayalalithaa died in December 2016 after prolonged illness.