Jayalalitha's aide Sasikala released from Bengaluru prison

Jayalalitha's aide Sasikala to walk free today
(L) Former AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, being taken to Victoria Hospital for a scan from Bowring Hospital, after her health deteriorated in the Parappana Agrahara Jail, in Bengaluru on January 21, 2021. Photo: IANS.

Bengaluru: Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's close aide and expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala completed her four year prison term for corruption on Wednesday and was released from a Bengaluru jail on Wednesday.

The formalities for her release were done at the state-run Victoria Hospital, where she is undergoing treatment for COVID-19 infection, which she had contracted a week ago, along with her sister-in-law J Ilavarasi.

"Yes, she has been formally released," Parappana Agrahara Jail Superintendent V Sheshamurthy told PTI.

According to hospital sources, prison officials sporting PPE kits completed the formalities inside the COVID-19 ward of the hospital.

However, she would remain at the Victoria hospital for another three days as mandated under the COVID-19 protocol, though she is now asymptomatic and her symptoms have reduced.

"As per protocol, she will be discharged on 10th day (January 30) if she is asymptomatic and free for oxygen support for at least three days," the hospital said in an official bulletin.

Sasikala, 63, had contracted the virus on January 20 and was admitted to the Bowring hospital initially before being shifted to the dedicated COVID-19 centre at the Victoria hospital.

A large number of supporters of the 66-year-old close aide of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister late J Jayalalithaa lined up outside the Victoria Hospital, raised slogans in her favour and distributed sweets in celebration.

Independent legislator T T V Dhinakaran, Sasikala's nephew and founder of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) visited the hospital after she was released by jail officials.

Dhinakaran had on Monday said a decision on the discharge of his aunt from the hospital would be taken after consulting the doctors.

Sasikala was sentenced to four years imprisonment in February 2017 in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case along with her sister-in-law J Ilavarasi and and Jayalalithaa's foster son V N Sudhakaran.

While Sudhakaran was freed a month ago, Ilavarasi will be released in the first week of February.

Ilavarasi, who too had contracted coronavirus, is asymptomatic.

The case

In September 2013, a special court convicted Jayalalithaa to simple imprisonment of four years. She was also slapped with a Rs 100 crore fine and forced to step down as the CM. The three co-accused – Sasikala, V N Sudhakaran, and Ilavarasi were also convicted, and fined Rs 10 crore each.

Jayalalithaa challenged the conviction in the Karnataka High Court, which acquitted her of all charges. But in 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the special court verdict convicting all four of them. Charges against Jayalalithaa were abated in view of her death on December 5, 2016.

Soon after Jayalaithaa's death, Sasikala took over the reins of the AIADMK in December 2016, but was later expelled from the party by the Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami-led camp.

She again came into limelight in late November 2019, when the Income Tax Department had reportedly attached properties valued Rs 1,600 crore allegedly belonging to her under the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act. It is alleged that nine properties, located in Chennai, Puducherry and Coimbatore, were purchased soon after demonetisation in November 2016.

(With inputs from PTI & IANS)

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