The Madras High Court on Wednesday passed an interim order restraining a journalist and six others from making statements linking Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami to a robbery attempt at J Jayalalithaa’s estate in April 2017, PTI reported.
Palaniswami had filed a defamation suit against Narada News Chief Executive Officer Mathew Samuel after he released a documentary linking him with the break-in at the former chief minister’s estate. The suit was heard by Justice K Kalyanasundaram late on Wednesday after the chief minister’s counsel sought an urgent hearing.
The judge ordered the injunction against Mathew, four of his Delhi-based associates, and two persons accused in connection with the robbery attempt. The case will be next heard on January 30.
Unidentified men had killed a security guard during the robbery attempt at the Kodanadu estate four months after Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016. Two months later, an accountant working at the estate was found dead at his house in Kotagiri.
On January 11, Samuel released a video of his interview with two accused persons in the case, KV Sayan and Valayar Manoj, who claimed that Palaniswami was linked to the robbery. The chief minister has denied any links with the robbery attempt.
Palaniswami sought Rs 1.1 crore in damages from Mathew, a former managing editor of Tehelka magazine, and asked the court to restrain Narada News from publishing or telecasting Mathew’s interviews.
The chief minister’s counsel told the court that the video by “this yellow journalist” made “reckless allegations”, The Hindu reported. “This journalist has no first-hand knowledge at all,” the counsel added, referring to Samuel. “He is a busybody who has made the video without any iota of material.”
The accused who were interviewed “are a menace to society”, Palaniswami’s lawyer claimed. “They cannot link someone just like that to a crime,” he said. “They claim that some dead person told something to them and an irresponsible journalist flashes it on social media.”
In the documentary, Sayan, who was Jayalalithaa’s driver, levelled the accusation against Palaniswami based on what his co-accused Kanakaraj had purportedly told him. Kanakaraj died in a road accident in Salem soon after the robbery attempt.
Soon after the video was released, Opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had demanded Palaniswami’s resignation. The DMK said it would stage a protest outside the Raj Bhavan on Thursday to demand Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s intervention in the matter.