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Judiciary

Supreme Court Grants Enforcement Directorate Custody of Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji in Cash-for-Job Money Laundering Case

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      07 August, 2023 11:02 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Grants Enforcement Directorate Custody of Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji in Cash-for-Job Money Laundering Case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Enforcement Directorate to undertake custodial interrogation of Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji till August 12 in a money laundering case related to the cash for job scam.

The top court dismissed a plea filed by Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji and his wife challenging the Madras High Court order upholding his arrest.

The top court affirmed the legality of the arrest of the DMK leader.

The ED arrested the Minister on June 14. However, the Minister complained of chest pain, he was admitted to a hospital. Thereafter, he underwent coronary artery bypass at Chennai’s Kauvery Hospital.

The Minister's arrest has come after the Supreme Court's judgement in May allowing the CBI and the ED to quiz him in the cash-for-job case during his tenure as Transport Minister between 2011 and 2016.

Pronouncing the judgement, a bench of Justices A S Bopanna and M M Sundresh dismissed the plea filed by Balaji and his wife Megala challenging the Madras High Court's judgment allowing ED custody of Balaji.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Balaji, since he was still recuperating, there were concerns about his health as the top court allowed his custody remand.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the ED, said the agency will take care of it.

In its submission, the Enforcement Directorate had contended that it has the requisite power to arrest and interrogate the accused minister in its custody in order to collect evidence and ensure corroboration.

Rohatgi had then argued that ED has no vested right to interrogate an accused in custody under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Balaji as well as Megala challenged the validity of the Madras High Court's orders of July 14 and July 4, dismissing her habeas corpus petition as not maintainable. A single judge bench on July 14 concurred with a view of one of the judges on the division bench allowing the ED to take him into custody.

The plea said: “not being a ‘police officer’, there is no law that confers powers on the ED to seek police custody of the accused. There is no provision in the PMLA that confers powers to the ED to seek an order of remand to its own custody in the same manner as ‘an officer in charge of a police station’ or ‘a police officer making the investigation’ exercises on production before a Magistrate under section 167 CrPC post arrest”.

The plea, filed through advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, argued that the high court erred to hold that ED has the right to investigate further after making arrest under Section 19 of PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) and then seeking custody for further investigation is permissible.



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