Tamil Nadu

Kodanad crime: HC directs police to respond to plea to examine Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Sasikala

A file photograph of one the accused, Deepu (right) accompanied by police personnel.   | Photo Credit: SATHYAMOORTHY M

The Madras High Court on Friday directed the Sholurmattam police in Nilgiris district to file its reply to a plea by three accused in the 2017 Kodanad Estate heist-cum-murder case, to summon and examine former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, former CM Jayalalithaa’s close aide V.K. Sasikala and others, before the trial court.

Justice M. Nirmal Kumar directed State Public Prosecutor Hasan Mohammed Jinnah to ensure that the reply was filed by September 27. Accused D. Deepu, M.S. Satheesan and A. Santhosh Samy had filed the revision petition against the refusal of the trial court to summon the former CM and others.

Justice Kumar told the counsel for the accused that they had not listed out the reasons to summon certain people for examination as defence witnesses. He asked the counsel to be prepared with reasons during the next hearing. He said, a reading of the trial court order alone gives an idea about reasons for rejection of their plea.

In his order passed on April 30, Sessions Judge C. Sanjai Baba had stated that the three accused before the High Court now, had filed a petition before him to summon as many as nine individuals including Mr. Palaniswami and Ms. Sasikala for being examined in connection with the 2017 crime reported at the tea estate jointly owned by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The other seven individuals, whom the three accused wanted to examine, were Ms. Sasikala'; relatives J. Elavarasi & V.N. Sudhakaran, former Nilgiris Collector P. Shankar, former Superintendent of Police Murali Rambha, AIADMK State organiser Sajeevan, estate manager Natarajan and one Sunil under the care of Mr. Sajeevan.

Similarly, the prime accused in the case, K.V. Sayan too had filed a petition before the trial court to summon an equal number of nine individuals for examination, and the only common witness between both the petitions was estate manager Natarajan.

The other eight witnesses whom Sayan wanted to examine were an Assistant Director of Forensic Sciences Lab, Coimbatore Government Medical College Hospital’s Dean, father of a CCTV operator who had died by suicide in the estate, the Inspector of a special branch in the SP’s office and so on.

Passing common orders on both the petitions seeking examination of as many as 17 witnesses in total, the Sessions Judge had allowed the accused to summon and examine only three witnesses: estate manager Natarajan, Forensic Sciences Assistant Director S. Raj Mohan and an Assistant Engineer of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, Kodanad Division.

Stating that no reason had been cited to summon and examine Mr. Palaniswami, Ms. Sasikala and her relatives, the Sessions Judge on April 30 wrote: “Mr. Palaniswami being the present Chief Minister of the State, the accused cannot just like that abuse the process of the court to summon the Chief Minister as a defence witness without any relevancy.”

The Sessions Judge also wrote: “This attempt made by the accused is highly vexatious and in the absence of any relevancy, this court is of the view that the petitioners/accused no.3,5,8 cannot be permitted to summon them as defence side witnesses.”

Aggrieved against the refusal to summon them, the three accused had moved the High Court with the present revision. Though Sayan had not preferred any revision, the other three accused had included him as a respondent to their revision petition.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 11:35:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/kodanad-crime-hc-directs-police-to-respond-to-plea-to-examine-edappadi-k-palaniswami-sasikala/article36270117.ece

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