Of the sum, Rs 36.9 crore would be paid towards IT and wealth tax arrears which Jayalalithaa had reportedly owed the Income Tax department, thus freeing it of any encumbrances, official sources said.
The ruling AIADMK said the party had a "responsibility and right" to convert the sprawling 0.55 acre property into a memorial, in line with Chief Minister K Palaniswami's 2017 announcement made after he assumed office.
"We have deposited Rs 68 crore in the City Civil Court...it is our responsibility and right to make her house a memorial," senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters here.
Converting the house into a memorial was the 'wholehearted desire' of the people of Tamil Nadu and AIADMK party workers, he added. Depositing Rs 67.9 crore towards compensation in a city court will pave the way for the state government to take possession of the former AIADMK supremo's residence and convert it into a memorial, though Jayalalithaa's niece and nephew J Deepa and J Deepak who have staked claim to the property, are likely to oppose the move.
The government's decision follows the Madras High Court in May declaring siblings Deepak and Deepa as Class II legal heirs entitled to inherit all properties left behind by the late leader. On Wednesday, the land acquisition award pronounced by S Lakshmi, Land Acquisition Officer (LAO)/Revenue Divisional Officer, South Chennai, said Veda Nilayam has to be acquired by the government for the purpose of converting it into a memorial under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
During enquiry, K Madhavan, Deepa's husband, Deepak's counsel SL Sudarsanam and Ajay Robin Singh, Deputy Commissioner of I-T appeared before the LAO, the order stated. The objections raised by the legal heirs were routine and the acquisition was for the conversion of Veda Nilayam to a memorial, the officer observed.
This (move) would serve a public purpose and it also is a policy decision of the government portraying the glory of an iconic leader, it said adding the said Rs 67.9 crore should be deposited in the city civil court account and legal heirs can approach the court for compensation. The conversion of Veda Nilayam into a memorial was one of the conditions laid down for the merger of the two AIADMK factions, each led by then rebel leader and now deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, respectively.
Panneerselvam is now AIADMK Coordinator. Besides this, a large memorial is coming up for Jayalalithaa at the Marina, where she was laid to rest after her death on December 5, 2016.