Jaya Used a Government Official for Her Land Deals
CHENNAI: Even as the AIADMK’s vociferous protests against Jayalalithaa’s conviction continue in Chennai and New Delhi, more damning details are emerging from the court order which found her guilty of Rs. 53 crore of unexplained wealth. That wealth, the court found was used to acquire 3,000 acres of land assets, mainly in Tamil Nadu.
A crucial witness testimony by a District Registrar named Rajagopal in the North Chennai land office reveals that in 1994, he was asked to visit the chief minister’s Poes Garden residence, where he was told by VN Sudhakaran, another accused in the case, to tour Tamil Nadu and identify plots of land for sale. Sudhakaran is the nephew of Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s associate.
Using a government registrar proved useful in more ways than one. The land was purchased by companies connected to Jayalalithaa at rates far below government guidelines, but Rajagopal went ahead and registered them.
Rajagopal admitted to working closely with another key witness, a real estate agent in Chennai’s Anna Nagar called Siva, who also testified to his role in the purchase of large tracts of land in the state, particularly of over 1,000 acres in Tirunelveli district acquired between August 1994 and March 1995.
When Siva put out advertisements of land for sale in early 1994, he told the court he was contacted by Rajagopal who asked to see some plots in Tirunelveli. They visited the district several times, and were accompanied by Sudhakaran on at least two occasions.
Over 80 sale deeds produced in court showed that Riverway Agro Products, a company whose directors were Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi, acquired nearly 1,200 acres for Rs. 25 lakh, much lower than stipulated rates at the time.
In his verdict, Judge John Cunha noted: “It has come in evidence that the Sub-registrar [Rajagopal] has bent the rules and has registered large number of documents by taking personal interest even though all these properties were undervalued.”
In the same period, there were unexplained cash credits of Rs. 1.86 crore into the company’s bank account.In 2003, Siva retracted his statement, alleging that the investigating officer Nallama Naidu had threatened him. But, when he was again questioned in court in 2011, he confirmed his role in the land deals.
Jayalalithaa’s lawyers did not respond to phone calls or messages. Rajagopal, the district registrar, retired a few years ago.
P Valamarthi, Dindigul district secretary of the AIADMK Women’s Forum rubbished the case against her leader. “The officials have lied about Amma calling the registrar to her house to register. There is no proof that Amma summoned the registrar to her house,” she told NDTV. “There is no such thing.”For now, ‘Amma’ watches over the party and the state from a cell in Bangalore’s Parappana Agrahara prison.