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Home States Tamil Nadu Kodanad accused can’t be kept indefinitely in custody, says HC

Kodanad accused can’t be kept indefinitely in custody, says HC

The Madras High Court on Tuesday wondered as to how long the State can keep the 2017 Kodanad Estate heist-cum-murder case accused K.V. Sayan and Valayar Manoj in judicial custody, unless there were materials to prove that letting them out on bail would affect the ongoing trial or lead to disturbance of witnesses.

Suspended animation

Justice R. Subramanian said, “Either they get bail or they don’t. We can’t keep them in suspended animation forever.

“Whether enlarging them on bail will affect the trial or witnesses is the only thing that has to be seen. We may either dismiss their bail petitions or allow them. Let’s see who goes to Delhi (Supreme Court, on appeal).”

‘Counter ready’

The judge made the observations when Additional Public Prosecutor C. Iyyapparaj sought time to file a counter affidavit.

The APP said the counter had been prepared by the police in the Nilgiris district but it could not be filed in court because of the recent heavy rain in Udhagamandalam.

He sought two weeks for filing the counter.

Surprised that the prosecution had been seeking more time though the bail petitions were filed a month ago, besides being listed before two other judges of the High Court so far, Justice Subramanian said it must not be forgotten that the petitioners had actually been granted bail in the heist-cum-murder within months of their arrest. However, the bail got cancelled in February 2019 after they gave a televised interview regarding the crime. The ground for cancellation was that they had attempted to influence the witnesses in the case. Now that the trial was in an advanced stage even as per the prosecution, the plea for grant of bail should be decided at the earliest, the judge said.

He directed the Registry to list both the petitions for hearing on July 16 and instructed the APP to serve copies of the counter affidavit on senior counsel N.R. Elango, representing the accused, well in advance so that he and State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan could commence arguing the matter without the need for any further adjournments.

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