Indian celebrity-turned-politician has been sentenced to four years imprisonment in corruption case.
Indian politician Jayalalithaa Jayaram launched a flurry of appeals Monday against a four-year jail sentence, in a long-running corruption case against the highly popular but controversial figure, an aide said.
Jayalalithaa, a former film star and longtime head of the prosperous southern state of Tamil Nadu, lodged the appeals against her jailing and conviction on Saturday in the corruption case that started 18 years ago.
Known as “Amma” (Mother) to supporters, Jayalalithaa was also fined one billion rupees and disqualified from holding office for illegally amassing wealth, including gold, properties, shoes and saris.
“Jayalalithaa’s senior counsel [B. Kumar] filed a set of four applications with the High Court registrar for an early hearing, seeking suspension of the sentence, bail for release from jail, review of the hefty fine and stay on conviction,” an official of her party told AFP.
Politicians are rarely convicted of corruption in India despite seething public anger over endemic graft that permeates every level of life in the country. Commentators have applauded the ruling, but her supporters have staged street protests in Tamil Nadu as well as the city of Bangalore where the verdict was handed down.
Jayalalithaa’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party emerged as the third biggest force in the national parliament after elections in May. The powerful regional leader won over voters after handing out freebies, including electric blenders, goats and small amounts of gold.
She was charged in 1997, when police seized assets that included but were not limited to 28 kilograms of gold, 750 pairs of shoes and more than 10,000 saris in a raid on her home in the state capital Chennai.
Prosecutors said her assets, which reportedly included two 1,000-acre estates in the lush tropical state she ran, were vastly disproportionate to her earnings during her first term as chief minister, which ran from 1991 to 1996.
The court is expected to take up the appeals this week in Bangalore where the 66-year-old has been locked up in the city’s main jail since Saturday.
“If petition for suspending the sentence is allowed, we hope the bail application will also be considered, as we want our party supremo out of jail at the earliest,” the party official said on condition of anonymity.
Jayalalithaa’s party installed her loyal finance minister as her replacement as Tamil Nadu chief minister, who was sworn in on Monday.