India’s apex Supreme Court has ordered the prosecution of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for not filing income tax returns during the years 1991 to 1994.
If convicted, the chief minister faces imprisonment of a minimum of three months to a maximum of three years.
Income tax officials had filed criminal cases in 1996 and 1997 against Jayalalithaa and her associate N Sasikala for not filing returns for 1993-94.
The apex court on Thursday held up the affidavit filed by the Income Tax department as bonafide that showed the complainants had adopted tactics to delay the case for the non-filing of returns.
The court rejected Jayalalithaa's argument that she had not committed any offence by not filing her returns. She had claimed she had no taxable income during the period.
However, the court pointed out that at the time she was a partner of Sasi Enterprises which she jointly owned with her close associate Sasikala.
The Supreme Court ordered the trial court to expedite the case and complete its legal proceedings within four months.
Political watchers say that this case may affect Jayalalithaa’s possible alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the forthcoming general elections.
A former actress, Jayalalithaa is the enigmatic leader of the regional AIADMK party.