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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Jayalalitha resigns after court order
J Jayalalitha
Jayalalitha: chief minister with a criminal past
One of India's most controversial politicans, J Jayalalitha, has resigned as chief minister of Tamil Nadu, following a Supreme Court ruling.

A panel of judges ruled that her appointment was unconstitutional because she had been convicted of corruption.

Jayalalitha's resignation has been accepted by the Tamil Nadu Governor, C Rangarajan, and a successor is expected to be sworn in later on Friday.

We quash and set aside her appointment

Judge SP Bharucha
The former chief minister has appealed to her followers to stay calm and has described the court order as "a temporary setback".

The BBC's Satish Jacob in Delhi says Jayalalitha - a former movie star turned politician - now has to accept that a popular mandate from voters cannot override the Indian constitution.

The case against her revolved around the legality of her appointment as chief minister, despite being barred from contesting elections because of her conviction.

The judges declared that her appointment was "illegal and that she cannot continue as chief minister".

Jailed for corruption

Jayalalitha had been convicted of corruption over a land deal and sentenced to three years in jail in October 2000.

Law courts, Madras
Jayalalitha's appointment was challenged in court
During her campaign, Jayalalitha turned her disadvantage into an opportunity and sought the sympathy of voters over her ban.

And when her party, the AIDMK, won a landslide victory and its elected representatives chose her as their leader, the governor of the state went ahead and appointed her the chief minister.

Our correspondent says the court decision has given a huge boost to Indians who have been appalled at the growing role of convicted criminals in political life.

"This is an unambiguous message from the highest court in the land to the political class, that no one can claim immunity from the law merely because they enjoy popular support," political analyst Venkataraman Murali said.

Jayalalitha's tenure was also marred by the dramatic arrest of her long time rival, M Karunanidhi, on charges of corruption.

Mr Karunanidhi, who is 78, was dragged from his home in a late-night raid by the police and dramatic pictures of his arrest were carried on television channels across India.

He was later released on humanitarian grounds.

See also:

10 Jul 01 | South Asia
Jayalalitha backs police action
18 May 01 | South Asia
Jayalalitha's enduring appeal
04 Jul 01 | South Asia
Tamil Nadu frees leading politician
30 Jun 01 | South Asia
Politician's arrest shakes Tamil Nadu
01 Jul 01 | South Asia
Rival's revenge in Tamil Nadu
24 Apr 01 | South Asia
Poll bar for star politician
14 Apr 99 | South Asia
Jayalalitha: Actress-turned-politician
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