Updated: August 24, 2021 9:32:13 am
Three accused in the sensational Kodanad heist-murder case have moved the Madras High Court, seeking to examine former Chief Minister K Palaniswami, expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala and her relatives J Ilavarasi and V N Sudhakaran in connection with the matter, praying for setting aside a lower court order, which dismissed their similar plea earlier.
Seeking to turn the heat on the AIADMK, the Congress, an ally of the ruling DMK, has sought to raise the Kodanad issue in the state Assembly, possibly on Tuesday, with the opposition party crying foul over the move, saying “sub-judice” matters are not discussed on the floor of the House.
However, the DMK hit back at its rival, saying it was the AIADMK that had brought the issue into the House, raking it up last week when it even staged a walkout and sat on a dharna outside the hall over the matter, with the Congress asking why it took the matter to the state Governor.
Late chief minister J Jayalalithaa used the Kodanad estate property as a retreat and after her death in December 2016, the accused murdered a security guard there, injured another and decamped with valuables, including watches.
In their Criminal Review Petition moved before the High Court, the three accused –Deepu, M S Satheesan and A Santosh Samy said they had earlier filed a petition before a local court in The Nilgiris, under Section 233 (3) and 233 of CrPC, praying that they be permitted to examine Palaniswami, Sasikala, Elavarasi, Sudhakaran, then district Collector and Superintendent of Police, Shankar and Murali Rambah, respectively, a local AIADMK functionary, the manager of the estate and another person.
However, the Sessions Judge partly allowed the petitioners to examine the Manager, whereas the petition was dismissed with respect to the other witnesses, they said.
Among others, the Trial Court failed to note that it is the right of the accused to lead witnesses on his side in order to substantiate his case and passed the Impugned Order against the Principles of Natural Justice.
Further, the court “erred in rushing up the proceedings of the case while the investigation officer has intentionally left out to record the statements of material witnesses.”
“Hence the Petition filed by the Petitioners/Accused to examine material witnesses of the case ought to have been allowed,” they said and prayed that the court set aside the lower court order partially dismissing the earlier prayer.
Meanwhile, the opposition party slammed efforts to raise the matter in the Assembly, saying it was sub-judice.
Party spokesperson D Jayakumar, an ex-minister and a former Assembly Speaker, said it is a laid down practice that sub-judice matters are not debated in the House, referring to Congress Legislature Party Leader K Selvaperunthagai moving a calling attention to matters of urgent public importance on the subject.
“There are so many issues to be discussed. Is Kodanad issue a matter of urgent importance?. Issues like drinking water supply, basic needs can be taken up during Zero Hour. The notice (by Congress) is in violation of practice. I was Speaker….we never disucssed matters that were sub-judice,” he told reporters here.
AIADMK advocate and former party MLA, I S Inbadurai, said House rule 92 specifies that sub-judice matters cannot be debated on the floor of the House and recalled that in 2006, when the DMK was in power, an AIADMK plea to discuss some issue was turned down citing this provision.
Responding, both DMK and Congress dismissed the AIADMK’s contention.
Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu said it was the opposition party that “first brought it (the issue) to the assembly.”
“Now you are saying it cannot be discussed in the Assembly. Then why did you bring it here and stage a walkout” last week? he asked.
Selvaperunthagai, the CLP leader, also wondered why did the AIADMK “register” the issue in the Assembly last week if it was indeed sub-judice, took it up with Governor Banwarilal Purohit and spoke on the matter in a media interaction.
Responding, Inbadurai said it was the “individual privilege of the Leader of the Opposition” (K Palaniswami) and he can only take it up with the Speaker,” issues concerning him and therefore highlighted the matter in the House.
On August 18, Palaniswami alleged that the DMK government was attempting to get him and a few of his party men framed in the Kodanadu estate murder and heist case of and his AIADMK staged a dharna on the matter in the premises of Kalaivanar Arangam, where the Assembly proceedings are held.
Chief Minister M K Stalin told the House then that the probe is on in the case with court’s permission and that there was no “political interference or vendetta.”
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