Published By: Pragati Pal
Last Updated: July 20, 2023, 12:58 IST
The Supreme Court agreed to hear on Friday the pleas of Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji and his wife Megala challenging the July 14 order of the Madras High Court by which it upheld his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices P S Narasimha and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the minister and his spouse, that the issue would become infructuous if not heard urgently.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the anti-money laundering probe agency, opposed the submissions of Sibal seeking an urgent hearing, saying wrong facts have been narrated and the Chief Justice of the High Court is yet to refer the matter to a division bench for further proceedings.
“If the bench seeks to list it tomorrow then I have no problem,” the law officer said.
“We will list it for hearing,” the bench said.
The minister and his wife have filed two separate petitions in the top court challenging the high court order by which it upheld his arrest by the ED in a money laundering case.
Besides upholding the arrest of the minister, the high court had also held as valid his subsequent remand in judicial custody by a sessions court in the money laundering case arising out of the alleged cash-for-jobs scam in the state’s transport department when he was the transport minister.
He continues to be a minister without portfolio in the Tamil Nadu cabinet.
Justice C V Karthikeyan, who was named as a third judge by the high court to hear the habeas corpus petition of Senthil Balaji’s wife, following a split verdict delivered by a division bench, concurred with the conclusions arrived at by Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy. Justice Chakravarthy had upheld Balaji’s arrest.
The third judge held that the accused had no right to frustrate the investigation.
Justice Karthikeyan directed the registry to place the matter before Chief Justice S V Gangapurwala to refer it to the same division bench to determine the date on which the ED could take the custody of Senthil Balaji, who has undergone coronary bypass surgery, and to shift him from the hospital.
Balaji was shifted to the Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai from a private hospital on Monday.
In his order, Justice Karthikeyan said, according to the complainant, he had given Rs 2.40 lakh (for securing a job in a state-run transport corporation). This was the specific offence of bribery for which an FIR was filed, after which the ED had registered the Enforcement Case Information Report (the ED’s version of FIR). Subsequently, Balaji, the transport minister in a previous AIADMK government, was arrested by the ED.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)
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