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Sathyamoorthy former AIADMK minister convicted by HC in assets case

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(G.N.S) Dt. 07
Chennai
Madras High Court in Chennai convicted former Commercial Taxes Minister ‘Kadaladi’ V. Sathyamoorthy of the AIADMK, 73, and his wife V. Chandra, 62, in a 21-year-old disproportionate assets case. They were sentenced to five and two years of rigorous imprisonment respectively and a fine of 5 lakh each was slapped on them.
Justice G. Jayachandran allowed a State appeal pending since 2001 and reversed their acquittal by a trial court on August 8, 2000. The couple was found guilty of having amassed wealth to the tune of ₹83.32 lakh between January 1, 1992, and May 13, 1996, as claimed by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC).
Immediately after the judgment, DVAC sleuths took the couple into custody and shifted them to the Puzhal prison on the basis of warrants issued by the High Court Registry.
Sathyamoorthy served as an MLA between June 17, 1991, and May 13, 1996, and served as Minister between May 17, 1993 and May 13, 1996 in the AIADMK government led by Jayalalithaa.
Subsequently, the DMK assumed power in the State and on August 22, 1996, the DVAC lodged a First Information Report against the former Minister and his family members for having amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income between 1992 and 1996.
According to the prosecution, the convicts’ wealth was assessed to be just 1.65 lakh at the beginning of the period in question, but had multiplied exponentially to 83.01 lakh by the end of the period.
Further, they had spent 31.28 lakh during the period though their known sources of income during the period was only 29.32 lakh.
After completing investigationsin the case, DVAC filed a chargesheet against the two and five of their relatives on November 3, 1997, accusing them of having committed offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. However, the lower court acquitted all of them, leading to the present appeal.
Not in agreement with the decision taken by the trial court, Justice Jayachandran said: “On analysis of evidence and findings of the trial court, this court finds that the trial judge was unreasonably bent upon readily accepting all and sundry explanations offered by the defence to justify the accumulation of wealth beyond their legally known sources.”
The judge said the act of the trial court of accepting certain documents relied upon by the defence but without any probative value rendered its findings unsustainable.
He said the arithmetic of the trial court in arriving at a fabulous figure of 36.21 lakh as the income of Chandra during the period, through sale of prawns from her aquaculture farm, only reminded him of the fable The Milkmaid And Her Pail.

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