A Supreme Court bench of chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, on April 22, 2019, said that it is not inclined to interfere with the Madras High Court order of January 23, 2019, which dismissed a petition challenging the construction of a memorial for former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa at Chennai’s Marina beach. “Having heard the petitioner-in-person and upon perusing the relevant material, we are not inclined to interfere. The special leave petition is accordingly dismissed. Pending interlocutory applications, if any, shall stand disposed of,” the bench said.
The bench dismissed the petition filed by ML Ravi, president of Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi, challenging the Madras High Court order and seeking a direction, to restrain the Tamil Nadu government from spending money from the public exchequer, for construction of the memorial. On January 23, 2019, the high court had held that Jayalalithaa cannot be termed as a convict in a disproportionate assets case and dismissed the petition challenging the construction of her memorial. The petitioner has contended in his plea that steps should be taken to recover money, if it was spent by the government, from her property as she was ‘convicted in the disproportionate wealth case’. The high court had observed that before the orders could be passed by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case, on the appeals filed against the Karnataka High Court order in 2017, Jayalalithaa had passed away and therefore, the appeal against her acquittal came to be dismissed as abated.
It had declined to accept the main contention of the petitioner that the order of acquittal passed by the Karnataka High Court, had been reversed by the Supreme Court in criminal appeals and Jayalalithaa, who was the first respondent in the said appeals, became a convict and as such, a memorial in honour of a convicted person cannot be built. The apex court had, in 2017, abated the charges against Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate wealth case, while sentencing her close aide VK Sasikala and two others to imprisonment.