Chennai: The Madras high court on Thursday (May 9) allowed former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary VK Sasikala to appear before a court in Egmore for hearing through a video conference on May 13.

Justice Anand Venkatesh, disposing of the petition from Sasikala lodged in Bengaluru jail, directed her to appear before the court through video conferencing in connection with a case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The case registered in 1996 relates to the alleged payments made by Sasikala, a close aide of late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, and co-accused Bhaskaran in violation of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) for the purchase of a transponder facility and uplinking charges for the now-defunct JJ TV channel.

When the matter came up, senior counsel Raja Rathnam, on behalf of Sasikala, submitted that she was already allowed to appear through video conference.

But, the subsequent presiding officer found some defects in the procedure and directed the appearance of the petitioner in person in the present case, Rathnam said.

Referring to the earlier order of the high court in similar matters, the council said it had stated that there is no requirement to produce the petitioner before the court and questioning as it can be done through a video conference.

Counsel for the ED Hema submitted that the only difficulty is to get signature from the petitioner in the papers after questioning is completed.

To this, Justice Venkatesh said the signatures could be obtained after sending the papers to jail, and it can be witnessed by the officer who will be accompanying the petitioner in prison at the time of the video conference.

The ED had booked Sasikala in 1996 on the charge of violation of foreign exchange regulations, and the case had since been dragging. A total of four connected cases are still pending.

In January, the Madras high court had allowed Sasikala to appear through video conference for framing of charges but stipulated that the trial should be completed in four months.

Sasikala is serving her four-year imprisonment awarded in a disproportionate assets case.