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Madras HC adjourns hearing on petition of scribe who released Kodanad estate case video

twitter-logoPTI | January 26, 2019 | Updated 00:23 IST

Chennai, Jan 25 (PTI) The Madras High Court on Friday adjourned the hearing of a petition filed by a New Delhi-based journalist seeking quashing of an FIR registered against him and six others over a video clip related to the Kodanad estate break-in case. Justice Anand Venkatesh, who heard the arguments from Senior Counsel N R Elango and Public Prosecutor A Natarajan, adjourned the case for passing orders on maintainability of the petition. On January 11, Mathew Samuel, former Tehelka managing editor, released a 16-minute video in which two accused persons in the case, K V Sayan and Valayar Manoj, allegedly linked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to the case. Samuel filed the petition seeking quashing of the FIR on Thursday, a day after the high court restrained him and others from making any statements linking Palaniswami to case. The FIR was registered by the city Crime Branch police on January 11. According to the petitioner, he and others had been accused of offences under section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), among others, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in connection with the video. He had contended that neither the press meet conducted by him on January 11 nor the documentary (video) published by him contained any statement made on the grounds of religion, race or place of birth to constitute an offence under section 153. The documentary relates to only Palaniswami and no person in the video makes any statement or act prompting enmity among two groups, he submitted. When the matter came up for hearing on Friday, Elango, submitted that the section 153A would not apply in the petitioner's case, as the video speaks only of Palaniswami in his individual capacity. Natarajan contended that because of the documentary, a large group of people, including members of an opposition party, had demonstrated before the Raj Bhavan, blocking roads and shouting slogans, demanding the chief minister's resignation. The judge then sought to know how Section 153A would apply when it speaks of promotion of enmity between two different religious groups, languages and two different sets of people, caste and communities, whereas in this case, the documentary released speaks of only a single individual. Natarajan replied that the video was the reason why the crowd had assembled outside Raj Bhavan and added that it had 'provoked' the supporters of Palaniswami's political party. On April 23, 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. PTI CORR APR DIV DIV

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