Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s close aide, V.K. Sasikala will complete her four year prison term for corruption on Wednesday but having tested Covid positive on January 20, she may have to continue her treatment in a Bengaluru hospital.
According to the Bengaluru Jail authorities, Sasikala will be formally released on Wednesday. “All the required formalities pertaining to her release will be completed at the hospital itself on Wednesday as she has been quarantined due to Covid,” a prison official told IANS.
Sasikala tested positive on January 20 and was admitted to the Bowring hospital initially. In view of her critical condition, she was shifted to the ICU ward of Victoria Hospital.
Now that the symptoms have reduced substantially and her condition has become normal, she has been taken out of the ICU, the Victoria Hospital authorities said in a statement.
However, the hospital authorities have been monitoring her. Meanwhile, her sister-in-law J. Ilavarasi, who too is serving a jail term along with Sasikala in the corruption case and was found Covid-19 positive, was keeping well, the authorities said.
Victoria Hospital, where she is treated, said Sasikala is conscious, alert and well oriented. She is consuming food and she is also maintaining oxygen saturation 97 per cent on two litres of oxygen through a non-rebreather mask (NRBM), it added.
Her release comes at a time when Tamil Nadu is preparing for assembly elections in which her former party AIADMK takes on the DMK.
Sasikala was reportedly unwell at her prison cell for about a week before admitted to Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital by the prison doctors with a diagnosis of type II diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hypothyroidism, urinary tract infection (UTI) and suspected Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI).
The 63-year-old Sasikala is serving her prison term in a disproportionate assets case. The case pertains to the amassment of disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during Jayalalithaa’s tenure as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 1991-1996.
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.