Kanimozhi: Reinventing herself

Ritesh K Srivastava

The cell No. 6 of Tihar central jail currently holds a very high-profile prisoner, one who has been accused of complicity in what is now being termed as one of the biggest corruption cases unearthed in the country- the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

This privileged prisoner of Tihar jail’s women cell is Kanimozhi - a Rajya Sabha MP and the beloved daughter of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi – whose endless wait for a bail does not seem to be over. Kanimozhi, the youngest child of Tamil cinema’s iconic script writer, has been denied bail by the special CBI court four times in the last six months.

The repeated rejection of Kanimozhi’s bail application by the special court, mainly due to her political weight, has shattered hopes of the DMK founder, who is heavily disappointed, frustrated and angry with Congress leadership’s failure to intervene and secure an early release of his daughter.

With every passing day, Kanimozhi’s dilemma and her anguish becomes unbearable for the 87-year-old DMK leader, who is now running out of patience, but like a seasoned politician, Karunanidhi is waiting for the opportune time to hit back. For Kanimozhi, who was long seen as her father’s literary heir before she ventured into the cruel world of politics, it is like living in a hell away from her 11-year-old son Aadithyan and husband Arvindan.

The tale of Kanimozhi’s meteoric rise and steep fall has several interesting facets as this south Indian poet-politician is unlike other high-profile accused in the 2G spectrum case. Kanimozhi was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 2007 and soon became the urbane poster girl of DMK replacing Dayanidhi Maran as her party’s crucial link between Tamil Nadu and New Delhi.

With the passage of time, Kanmozhi made her presence felt in the corridors of power in the national capital. However, her attempts to claim her father’s political legacy did not go well with her close family members as they have themselves staked claims to Karunanidhi’s vast political empire, built over the years. But nothing could deter Kanimozhi from pursuing her political ambitions since she had her father- her biggest pillar of strength-standing by her side.

Kanimozhi became stronger than ever and her political opponents preferred to keep quiet till the right time to hit back came. They did hit back when Kanomozhi, her close aide and former telecom minister A Raja and several others were accused of gross irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum license, which caused an estimated loss of Rs 1 lakh and 73 thousand crores to the state’s exchequer.

In an interesting twist of fate, Kanimozhi, who used to live in a palatial bungalow in Chennai’s CIT colony, was suddenly confined to a 15 by 10 feet prison cell in Tihar. Another interesting aspect of the 2G case is the legal complexities involved in granting or denying bail to Kanimozhi.

Legally speaking, the sub-section 6 of Section 437 says that if after the framing of the charges if the trial is not concluded within 60 days of the dates fixed for taking evidence, then the person should get mandatory bail and it is irrespective of the charges slapped on him. In simple words, a Supreme Court order says that an under trial could be granted bail if charges against the accused have been framed. However, defying all set norms, the judiciary continues to deny bail to her. Now, the bigger question, which arises in this context is: how long can the judiciary deny bail to an under trial even when the charges against the accused have been framed or how long will Kanimozhi continue to languish in jail as she had already spent nearly six months behind the bars.

Shouldn’t the judiciary consider her status as a woman and the fact that her trial is slowly ruining her family life and pushing her to a mental breakdown? Here, I don’t empathize with Kanimozhi and others, who have been charged for offences under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) 468 and 471 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 7 or in alternative Section 11 read with Section 12 and 13(2) read with 13 (1b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

I am aware that if Kanimozhi is eventually found guilty of complicity in the 2G case, she will have to spend the rest of her life behind the bars (it’s a different thing that in India several high-profile accused easily evade justice since nothing could be proved against them), but till then she deserves to be out of the jail. It is her legal right, which is granted to every citizen by the Constitution. By denying bail to Kanimozhi, the judiciary is curtailing her legal right.

Whether or not she gets bail will be decided by the trial court in the days to come, but the political ramifications of her ordeal and continued suffering would seriously have an adverse impact on the coalition politics in the country, forcing the allies to go for harder bargains. Despite AIADMK’s sweeping victory in Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, DMK still has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and its support is crucial for the survival of the UPA government, more in case, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC decides to pull out of the coalition.

On the family front, a wheel-chair-bound Karunanidhi is gearing himself to witness an intense battle for succession between his second son MK Stalin, his eldest son MK Alagiri, his grandsons Dayanidhi and Kalanithi Maran and, of course, Kanimozhi. The support for the loveable daughter of Karunanidhi is dwindling fast in and outside the party and her involvement in the 2G case is being seen as the foremost cause of DMK’s debacle in the Assembly elections.

However, as long as she has her father’s support, Kanimozhi can relax. She now spends her time reading classics authored by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the solitary confinement of her prison cell, probably pondering over the mistakes which she committed and the need to reinvent herself. But whatever one says, the road ahead is difficult, bumpy and full of obstacles for Kanimozhi.

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