The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Sholurmattam police in the Nilgiris district to expedite the investigation being conducted further into the 2017 Kodanad Estate heist-cum-murder case and file an additional final report before the lower court concerned as early as possible.
Justice V. Sivagnanam issued the direction while disposing of a petition filed by one of the accused, Manoj alias S. Valayar Manoj, who accused the police of dragging the matter in the guise of further investigation. He had sought a direction to complete the trial within a stipulated time.
However, State Public Prosecutor Hasan Mohammed Jinnah submitted a status report, in a sealed cover, on the investigation being conducted by the police and claimed that several new facts had come to light. He stated that the police would require some more time.
The Kodanad Estate was owned jointly by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her close aide V.K. Sasikala. In April 2017, when Edappadi K. Palaniswami was the Chief Minister, a burglary was reported in the estate. In the course of the burglary, the accused had hacked watchman Om Bahadur to death.
Another watchman had sustained grievous injuries. Days later, the prime accused, C. Kanagaraj, former driver of Jayalalithaa, died in a road accident. Another accused, K.V. Sayan, escaped narrowly from a similar road accident. A CCTV operator at the Estate too died by suicide adding to the mystery.
Nevertheless, the police completed the investigation and filed a final report before a Judicial Magistrate at Kotagiri on November 29, 2017. Thereafter, the case was committed to the Sessions Court at Udhagamandalam and the latter took it on file on January 4, 2018. Charges were framed against the accused on October 31, 2019.
After issuance of summons and completion of examination of as many as 41 prosecution witnesses in March 2021, the police suddenly decided to conduct further investigation in the case after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) assumed power in the State, the petitioner complained to the court.
Since August 2021, the trial court had been regularly adjourning the case at the request of the police though no progress whatsoever had been reported regarding the further investigation, he claimed and accused the police of dragging on the trial endlessly for reasons best known to them.