Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa is one of the most powerful and influential political leaders in India, especially the south. This is despite the heavy corruption charges she’s had against her for nearly two decades. With the Supreme Court hearing for her Disproportionate Assets case starting on 23rd February, here are some things you may need to know.

Jayalalithaa has been accused for misusing her 1991-1996 term as Chief MinisterAmassing huge amounts of unaccounted wealth worth to Rs 66.65 crores, including real estate and personal assets.The trial has been going on for nearly 18 years, to no avail The case was first filed in 1996. In 1997, a raid was conducted on her residence by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), leading to the seizure of 10,000 sarees and 750 pairs of footwear, a chargesheet and accusations against her long time supporters. However, she was still going scott free. Finally, in 2003, the Supreme Court transferred the case to another state (Karnataka) to ensure a fair trial.Through it all she has been flirting with Tamil Nadu Chief Ministership Her party, AIADMK, won the state election in 2001 and she was sworn in as Chief Minister, but she was forced to resign due to the corruption charges. Two months later, the High Court acquitted her from the charges and she was back on the CM seat by 2002. The whole resigning and comeback story repeated itself in 2014 too. In May 2015, all charges against her in the Disproportionate Assets Case were dropped (!)Justice CR Kumaraswamy of the Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa, and the three other accused in the case, on the grounds of lack of evidence. So she took the oath as the CM for the fifth time.And now,  while the Karnataka government seeks to reverse this verdict, the SC is questioning if her assets are illegal at all The Karnataka government stated that the acquittal was a “gross miscarriage of justice” and that it was illogical. However, in a recent Supreme Court hearing, the judge said having disproportionate assets is not a crime unless the assets were acquired illegally.  


A mysterious phenomenon followed. Some of the Tamil films that were broadcast on Sunday evenings began to show Jayalalithaa in scenes that were raunchy by the standards of that age. I remember one vividly.