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05 Dec 2017

Who will inherit Jayalalithaa's property?

What about Jayalalithaa's property

A year has passed since AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa died. However, legal battles over who will inherit what have just begun.

Jurists claim the legal squabbles over Jayalalithaa's above Rs. 1,000cr assets will reach a boiling point once an administrator is appointed to manage the assets.

There are multiple claimants to Jayalalithaa's assets. Moreover, as there is no will, this will be a long process.

In context

What about Jayalalithaa's property
First of all, what did Jayalalithaa own?


First of all, what did Jayalalithaa own?

Jayalalithaa's assets fall under three categories: owned before she became CM in 1991, acquired during 1991-96 and frozen during the corruption case and those obtained after 1996.

In 2016, Jayalalithaa owned the Poes Garden residence valued at Rs. 72cr, Rs. 100cr worth Kodanad Tea Estate and two AP farm-houses valued at Rs. 55cr, among others.

Apart from this, she owned 28kgs of gold/diamond jewellery.


Who are the claimants?

Five months after Jayalalithaa's death, her nephew Deepak raked up a controversy saying that he had a will, which lists Jayalalithaa's properties. As per that document, he claims to be the owner of the property.

Later, his sister Deepa claimed that since it's an ancestral will, she can stake an equal claim.

However, TN's former public prosecutor S Jayakumar said there is no will.

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In addition, Bengaluru's Amrutha claims to be her daughter

Long-lost daughter?

In addition, Bengaluru's Amrutha claims to be her daughter

Jayakumar termed Deepak and Deepa as class 2 legal heirs.

However, recently, a 37-year old Bengaluru woman Amrutha has claimed to be Jayalalithaa's daughter. She is seeking a DNA test to prove her claim.

Jayakumar insists that if this claim is proven, Amrutha would become a class 1 heir. The onus of "ascertaining the genuineness of this claim" falls on the courts.


What are the issues with the property?

Jayakumar insists it's difficult to identify benami assets. However, if a writ petition is filed under Constitution's Article 226, all sub-registrars would have to list the properties named under Jayalalithaa.

DMK lawyer Saravanan says property listed in the corruption case is state property and should be auctioned or used for public purpose.

He said "due to weak political will," no action is being taken.


Meanwhile, how will the case proceed?

As per the Hindu Succession Act, heirs in the legal chart can inherit the property. However, in this case, Deepa and Deepak's positions as sole heirs are being challenged by Amrutha. Thus, the government will now probably name an administrator to ensure fair distribution of assets.

Meanwhile, TN government has become a possible litigant as it wants to convert Jayalalithaa's residence into a memorial.

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