Kodanad estate case: Madras HC restrains ex-Tehelka editor Samuel Mathew, 6 others from making statements against K Palaniswami

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Wednesday issued an interim injunction restraining a former magazine editor and six others from making any statement linking Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami to the Kodanad estate break-in case.

Justice K Kalyanasundaram issued the exparte interim injunction on a defamation suit filed by Palaniswami against former Tehelka managing editor Samuel Mathew and others over a video clip linking the AIADMK leader to the robbery at the Kodanad estate in 2017. Besides Mathew, his four-Delhi based associates and two accused persons in the Kodanad estate case — K V Sayan and Valayar Manoj — are the other defendants.

File photo of Madras High Court. PTI

File photo of Madras High Court. PTI

On 11 January, Mathew released a 16-minute video in which Sayan and Manoj, allegedly linked Palaniswami to the case. Issuing notice to the defendants, the judge posted the case to 30 January. Earlier on Wednesday, senior counsel Satish Parasaran, appearing for Palaniswami, made mention before the judge for an urgent hearing of the suit in which the chief minister has sought Rs 1.10 crore as damages from the defendants. In his interim prayer, Palaniswami sought an order restraining the seven defendants from making statements particularly alleging that he had a role in the incident.

On 23 April, 2017, the security guard of the Kodanad estate, the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa's retreat home in the hilly district of the Nilgiris, was murdered in a robbery attempt by a 10-member gang. It emerged during the probe that Jayalalithaa's former driver C Kanagaraj and Sayan had allegedly plotted the crime. A total of 10 people have been arrested in the case and a charge sheet has also been filed.

Later, Kanagaraj and Sayan's wife and daughter were killed in separate road accidents during the probe, even as another employee of the property was found dead, in a case of suspected suicide. When the suit came up for hearing, Parasaran narrated the sequence of events and said a criminal case had been registered and investigation by police was underway. Palaniswami had no connection with the incident and without any material evidence, the defendants were giving media interviews linking the chief minister to the case, he submitted.

Parasaran claimed that Mathew was operating the two accused and that the allegations had been made without an iota of evidence only with the intention to defame the chief minister and the party he belongs to in view of the coming Lok Sabha election. The counsel submitted that Kanagaraj died due to drunken driving and the other employee committed suicide and Palaniswami had nothing to do with the robbery or the deaths. Parasaran alleged that Mathew, as the owner of Narada News — a news website, was known for blackmailing officials using honey traps and produced a CD containing one such purported conversation in support of his claim.

"The fact stated herein above clearly establishes prima facie case in my (client's) favour...the balance of convenience is in my favour for grant of an injunction," the counsel said. "Irreparable prejudice and loss would be caused to the plaintiff if the defendants are not restrained by the court from in any manner whatsoever continuing to make statements particularly alleging that the plaintiff had a role to play in the incident that had taken place on 23 April, 2017 at the Kodanad estate and the accidental deaths later," he said.

Palaniswami has rejected the allegations against him but the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has been demanding his resignation. The party has announced that it will hold a protest in front of the Raj Bhavan here on Thursday to demand action by Governor Banwarilal Purohit against Palaniswami.

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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2019 23:54:26 IST

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