Kodanad estate: HC rejects bail plea of accused

Police inform the court that the trial in the case in Sessions Court is in advanced stage

April 24, 2020 08:10 pm | Updated 08:10 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Shollurmattam police in the Nilgiris district has informed the Madras High Court that the trial in the sensational 2017 Kodanad estate heist and murder case is in an advanced stage and 30 witnesses have been examined in the case.

The submission was made before Justice R. Subramanian during the hearing of a bail petition filed by prime accused K.V. Sayan of Kerala. After recording the statement by Additional Public Prosecutor S. Iyapparaj, the judge dismissed the bail plea.

Former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her close aide V.K. Sasikala owned the estate jointly until the former died on December 5, 2016 and the latter went to jail in a corruption case on February 15, 2017. Edappadi K. Palaniswami assumed office as Chief Minister the next day.

On the intervening night of April 23 and 24 of 2017, a gang had reportedly trespassed into the estate and took away some valuables after murdering a security guard. The police investigation revealed that the crime was plotted by Jayalalithaa’s former driver C. Kanagaraj.

However, Kanagaraj got killed in a road accident in Salem on April 29, 2017 and on the same day Sayan too suffered injuries in a road accident in Kerala. A judicial magistrate in Kotagiri granted bail to Sayan on September 11, 2017.

Sayan’s accomplice C. Vayalar Manoj, the other accused in the case, was also granted bail by a Sessions Court on December 15, 2017. Subsequently, on January 11, 2019, Delhi-based journalist Mathew Samuel released a video of the two accused dragging the name of the Chief Minister in the crime. Since it violated the bail conditions, the trial court cancelled their bail. Though they challenged the cancellation before the Madras High Court, Justice G.K. Ilanthiraiyan dismissed their plea on March 6, 2019 following stiff opposition by State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan.

Further, Mr. Palaniswami too filed a civil suit in the High Court and obtained a gag order restraining the accused as well as the journalist from addressing the media on the issue and also from circulating the clip in the social media. He demanded damages to the tune of ₹1.1 crore.

Even as the suit is pending before the High Court, the trial in the heist and murder case had made a headway before the Sessions Court in Nilgiris. After taking note of it, Justice Subramanian said: “I do not see any reason to grant bail at this juncture. Hence, this petition is dismissed for the present.”

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