The Madras High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Sholurmattam police in the Nilgiris on a plea seeking to examine former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and expelled All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader VK Sasikala in the 2017 Kodanad heist and murder case, reported The Times of India.
Justice M Nirmal Kumar said that the petitioners have not produced any materials to show the trial court hearing the case should examine Palaniswami and Sasikala. The High Court then asked the police to file its reply on the matter and adjourned the hearing to September 27.
The case pertains to robbery and murder at the Kodanad estate owned by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Four months after her death in December 2016, a group of eleven people, led by C Kanagaraj, a former driver at Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence, allegedly robbed the estate as they believed crores of cash was stashed in the house, reported The News Minute.
The group, however, did not come across such an amount of money. They escaped with 10 watches and a crystal rhino worth Rs 42,000, according to the chargesheet. In the process, they killed a security guard.
Following the robbery, a series of deaths of people related to the case took place within months. Just five days after the heist, Kanagaraj died in an accident on the Salem-Chennai highway. He was the first accused in the case.
On the same day, the second accused in the case, Sayan, met with an accident near Palakkad. While Sayan, a resident of Kerala, survived, his wife and daughter died in the accident. Months after that in July, Dinesh Kumar, an accountant working at the estate, was found dead at his house in Kotagiri.
During the trial, the testimony of investigating officer Balasundaram, who was also a witness in the case, had revealed lapses in the inquiry. His deposition showed that photos and videos of the crime scene were not taken, an inventory of the estate’s valuables were not recorded and there was no investigation of the accidents of the accused.
In April, D Deepu, MS Satheesan and A Santhosh Samy, all accused in the case, filed a petition before a session court alleging that the people behind the crime had escaped due to “lethargic” investigation.
They had demanded that Palaniswami, Sasikala, then Nilgiris District Collector Shankar, then Superintendent of Police Murali Rambah, AIADMK state office-bearer Sajeevan and Kodanad estate manager Natarajan be questioned.
As the sessions court only allowed the examination of Natarajan, they moved the High Court. The petitioners claimed that the trial in the lower court was done in a hurried manner and was influenced by members of the AIADMK.
The judge had failed to note that it was the right of the accused to lead witnesses on his side to substantiate his case, the petitioners alleged, according to PTI.
The judge had been a “mute spectator” to the proceedings and “miserably failed” to infer the seriousness of the case where the police had filed their report hurriedly, the petitioners submitted.
Meanwhile, Sayan, who was earlier out on bail, had said in an interview that Palaniswami had ordered the heist to retrieve money and some important documents from the estate. He bail has been cancelled and he has been in jail since 2019.
As the police have begun further investigation into the case, Palaniswami has accused the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government of trying to foist a false case on him.