Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's aide V K Sasikala, convicted in an assets case and serving a four year sentence at the central jail in Bengaluru, has sought release earlier than the schedule under remission norms for prisoners, official sources said on Wednesday. Sasikala engaged herself in activities like learning Kannada and gardening while in prison, her counsel said, answering a question and confirmed the submission of a petition seeking remission.
While her release is due on January 27 next year, she applied for remission so that she could walk out of the prison early, official sources told PTI. The prison authorities have forwarded her application to the head of the department for consideration and a decision was yet to be taken on it, they added.
Sasikala's advocate N Raja Senthoor Pandian said that on November 12, a petition was submitted to prison authorities emphasising that she has a right to seek remission and she requested that as per rules, she be granted that benefit. Also, it was stated in the plea that she is ready to remit the fine of over Rs 10 crore, he said.
Subsequently, following remittance of fine and after that information was formally conveyed to prison authorities by official channels, a letter was sent on November 19 reminding jail officials about the remission petition, he said. Asked if she is eligible to seek remission, the advocate said that for the category of prisoners convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act,remission has been granted by the Parappana Agrahara Central Jail authorities in the past too.
"This information was obtained under the Right to Information Act," he noted. Also, the Union Home Ministry has not given any direction that remission should not be extended to those convicted under PCA and this has been made known in a reply to a plea under the RTI Act, he said.
Such replies to the request for information under the RTI Act has been appended to the petition seeking remission for the perusal of authorities. The benefit of remission, hence, should be allowed to Sasikala without "differentiating or discriminating" her plea on any grounds, the petition said.
Without any delay, her petition should be decided in an expeditious manner and there are judgments to support this view, he said. To a question, the counsel told PTI, "she engaged herself in gardening, made handicraft articles and learnt Kannada as well while in prison." Asked why she involved herself in such activities as she was only serving a sentence of simple imprisonment,the counsel said as per the Karnataka Prison Manual, if prisoners awarded non-rigorous imprisonment so desired, they could engage themselves in such endeavors while in jail.
"We have underscored that those convicted under the PCA and awarded simple imprisonment have been granted remission.Our petition is under consideration. We are awaiting a reply.
We are confident that we will get a good response," he said. After the Supreme Court restored the trial court judgment in toto against Sasikala and two of her close relatives in the disproportionate assets case, she surrendered before the court in Karnataka on February 15, 2017 and has been lodged in Parappana Agrahara Central Jail since then.
Her two relatives are also undergoing four years simple imprisonment and all three of them were imposed a fine of Rs 10 crore each. With the death of Jayalalithaa in 2016, who was the first accused in the case, the appeal by Karnataka against her stood abated.