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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Kodanad heist-murder: Madras HC allows police to probe further

Maintaining that further investigations could be done at any point of the trial, Justice M Nirmal Kumar said the “filing of charge sheet or pendency of the trial can by no means be a prohibition to conduct further investigations”.

By: Express News Service | Chennai |
Updated: August 28, 2021 8:37:48 am
The court was hearing a petition by prosecution witness Anubav Ravi, secretary of Amma Peravai in Coimbatore, who sought a stay on the re-investigation, citing that it was investigated and already been under trial.

IN A setback to the political campaign led by the opposition AIADMK to prevent a fresh investigation into the 2017 Kodanad Estate heist and murder case, the Madras High Court on Friday refused to stall further investigations.

Maintaining that further investigations could be done at any point of the trial, Justice M Nirmal Kumar said the “filing of charge sheet or pendency of the trial can by no means be a prohibition to conduct further investigations”.

The court was hearing a petition by prosecution witness Anubav Ravi, secretary of Amma Peravai in Coimbatore, who sought a stay on the re-investigation, citing that the matter was investigated and already been under trial.

The petitioner argued that further investigations could be allowed only till the trial commences in the case and prayed the court to direct the trial court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis and complete it within a stipulated time. Another contention of the petitioner was that the police did not obtain prior permission from the trial court for further investigations.

However, the government counsel cited Section 173 (8) of CrPC to state that no such rule for a prior permission of the magistrate is required to commence further investigations. Asserting that the government neither has a political motive nor an intention to malign anyone, Advocate General R Shanmugasundaram submitted before the court that a detailed investigation in the case was a poll promise of the DMK.

Noting that it is always better to have a fair and impartial trial, the judge said the object of a criminal trial is to discover the truth and plausible evidence brought on record.

The heist at the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s 800-acre private estate occurred when Edappadi K Palaniswami was the Chief Minister.

Addressing the media at Delhi Press Club in January 2019, one of the accused alleged the involvement of Palaniswami in the case, which was denied by the Chief Minister. After the DMK government came to power, the police recently recorded fresh statements of one of the accused, leading to protests by the AIADMK in the assembly as well as outside.

During the robbery at the estate, a security guard was murdered. This was followed by a series of other incidents, including the suicide of a CCTV operator at the estate and two separate road accidents involving the accused. Another security guard who was also attacked during the heist is reportedly missing.

The heist was executed by a former driver of the estate, who died on the day a lookout notice was issued by the police against him.

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