Senthil Balaji Money Laundering Case : Court Advises Regular Bail Application, Citing Medical Condition Not ‘Very Serious
New Delhi, 28 Nov (City Times): (Senthil Balaji Money Laundering Case) : The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, declined to entertain the medical bail plea of Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case. The court, led by Justices Bela M Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma, dismissed the plea, stating that the medical condition did not appear “very serious” for immediate bail. Balaji was advised to apply for regular bail before the trial court.
Background of the Case: Money Laundering Charges
Senthil Balaji, the Minister for Electricity and former Transport Minister in the AIADMK government, was arrested by the ED on June 14 in connection with a money laundering case linked to a cash-for-jobs scam dating back to his tenure as the Transport Minister from 2011 to 2015. The charges were filed based on three FIRs lodged against him in 2018 for his alleged involvement in the cash-for-job case. The ED’s action was prompted by an Enforcement Case Information Register (ECIR) filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in 2021.
Supreme Court’s Observations: Medical Grounds and Regular Bail
During the plea hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Balaji, argued that the minister suffered from a chronic lacunar infarction, a condition he deemed serious. However, the court, after checking information on the ailment, expressed skepticism, suggesting it could be treated with medication. Justice Trivedi remarked, “Today, bypass is like getting an appendix removed,” highlighting the commonality of medical procedures.
Despite Rohatgi’s efforts to present Balaji’s health condition as a reason for urgent bail, the court remained unconvinced, asserting that the ailment did not warrant immediate release on medical grounds. The bench advised Balaji to file a regular bail application, stating that the court was not satisfied with the illness as a basis for medical bail.
Withdrawal of Bail Plea: Court’s Decision
Facing resistance from the court, Rohatgi chose to withdraw the bail plea. The court allowed the withdrawal and ordered that observations made in the High Court’s interim order against Balaji on merits should not impede his filing of a regular bail application before the trial court.
High Court’s Stance and ED’s Accusations: Influencing Witnesses
The Madras High Court had earlier dismissed Balaji’s bail plea on October 19, expressing concerns that the minister might influence witnesses if released on bail. The ED had arrested him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, alleging his involvement in corrupt practices during the AIADMK regime.
Conclusion: Legal Battle Continues
As the Supreme Court rejects the medical bail plea, the legal battle intensifies for Minister Senthil Balaji. The court’s insistence on a regular bail application underscores the need for legal processes to be followed meticulously, irrespective of the defendant’s stature. Balaji’s medical condition, while considered, did not sway the court, emphasizing the importance of adhering to established legal procedures in cases of alleged financial misconduct. The outcome of the ongoing legal proceedings will further determine the course of action in this high-profile money laundering case.