File photo of Jayalalithaa (PTI)
CHENNAI: Her legal heirs have been determined, but what is the fair market value of Jayalalithaa’s sizeable list of assets? Three figures have been presented before the Madras high court. Jayalalithaa’s legal heirs — J Deepa and J Deepak — said the total value of their aunt’s properties was Rs 188 odd crore; two AIADMK functionaries who wanted to be made administrators told the court that the late Tamil Nadu CM’s assets were worth Rs 913.14 crore. During arguments, they said the value would be more than Rs 1,000 crore. These figures pertain only to what Jayalalithaa had acquired between 1991 and 1996 —during her maiden stint as chief minister. The assets she added in the 25 years since is anybody’s guess.
Jayalalithaa’s favourite summer retreat, the Kodanad estate, is a test case. The 900plus acre estate was bought in 1992, but it is double its original size now. In whose name were the new additions registered, and did the original title undergo any “mutation”? The present market value of the tea estate is Rs 1 crore an acre. The status and value of 32 companies she floated with her friend and aide Sasikala and other associates since 1991 remain unknown.
In a list of 173 properties, Jayalalithaa’s name figures in the title deeds of at least 100, and it won’t be easy for her legal heirs to disentangle her share from that of Sasikala or the companies in which she was a partner. While Deepa and Deepak are entitled to her share, the rest would be taken over by the government, as the Supreme Court has convicted all her co-accused — Sasikala, J Ilavarasi and V N Sudhagaran — in a corruption case. Gold and diamond jewellery valued at Rs 5.53 crore in 1996 along with silverware, fixed deposits and shares worth another Rs 4 crore are easy to claim for the brothersister duo, who now have to approach the special court in Karnataka for return of the seized valuables.
Deepa and Deepak could struggle to locate Jayalalithaa’s assets and take possession. In her affidavit for the 2011 polls, Jayalalithaa had declared assets worth Rs 51.4 crore. But in her last poll affidavit in April 2016, she declared Rs 113.73 crore in assets. Even a back-of-the-envelope calculation would put the real value of these assets at many times more than what Jayalalithaa had claimed.