A court on Friday cancelled the bail granted to two key accused in the 2017 Kodanad heist, nearly a month after they alleged the involvement of Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami in the case in a video released by a journalist.
Nilgiris District Judge P Vadamalai passed the order, allowing a petition by the state government which had contended that the two prime accused -- K V Sayan and K C Manoj -- were hampering the investigation and intimidating witnesses by making such public statements.
He dismissed a petition by Sayan offering to record a confessional statement about the crime, saying it was not in proper format.
A guard of Kodanad estate was found dead on April 23, 2017 in the robbery attempt. Later police arrested 10 people, including Sayan and Manoj.
Kanagaraj, a former driver of Jayalalithaa and accused of a key role in the heist, and Sayan's wife and daughter were killed in separate road accidents during the probe.
Another employee of the estate was found dead in a case of suspected suicide later.
The judge had on February 2 reserved orders on the plea for cancelling the bail and directed all the 10 accused to appear before him Friday.
When the matter came up for hearing in the morning, four accused, including Sayan and Manoj, were not present.
After the lawyers of Sayan and Manoj sought time for their clients to appear, the Judge adjourned the hearing to 2 pm.
However, none of them turned up in the afternoon.
The judge then delivered his order cancelling the bail to Sayan and Manoj and directed the police to arrest and lodge them in judicial custody.
He also issued arrest warrants against the other two -- Dipu and Vigin (accused no. 4 and 6) and posted the case to February 18 for further hearing.
Judge Vadamalai dismissed a discharge petition filed by eight accused barring Sayan and Manoj.
The eight had contended that they did not have any role in the murder and the heist at the Kodanad estate, the retreat of late chief minister Jayalalithaa in Nilgiris district.
In the video released by former Tehelka editor Mathew Samuel in New Delhi on January 11, Sayan and Manoj had linked the name of Palaniswami in the case, a charge denied by the chief minister.
Sayan and Manoj were arrested on January 14 in connection with the video and had been released on bail by a Chennai court, while the high court had stayed the FIR against them and four others, including Samuel.
The FIR was filed under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).