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Money laundering case : SC refuses to entertan bail plea of TN Minister Senthil Balaji

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain the bail plea of Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case, on medical grounds.

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma refused to entertain Balaji’s bail plea saying condition doesn’t seem to be “very serious” to get bail.

The Apex Court said that Balaji can apply for regular bail before the trial court.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Balaji, then withdrew his bail plea as the apex court was unwilling to grant the relief.

“You should apply for regular bail. We are not satisfied with your illness as a ground for medical bail,” said Justice Trivedi to Balaji’s counsel.

During the hearing, Rohatgi said Balaji is suffering from a chronic lacunar infarction, however, Justice Trivedi said, “I checked on Google. It says that it can be cured by medication. There is nothing as such that is serious, otherwise, we would have seriously considered it.”

As Rohatgi further tried to convince the bench saying Balaji is sick and had a bypass surgery, Justice Trivedi replied, “Today, bypass is like getting an appendix removed.”

The Senior counsel urged the top court to clarify the High Court’s observations saying Balaji is a ‘flight risk’ should not come in the way of his application for regular bail before the trial court.

The bench agreed to the request and ordered, “Observation made in interim order (by the High Court) against petitioner (Balaji) on merits shall not come in the way of petitioner filing regular bail application.”

On the last date of hearing, the top court had asked Rohatgi to furnish his latest medical reports for court’s perusal.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by Balaji challenging October 19 order of the Madras High Court which dismissed his bail plea.

The High Court had said Balaji was likely to influence witnesses if enlarged on bail.

The then Minister for Electricity as well as Prohibition and Excise, Balaji, arrested on June 14 in connection with a money laundering case linked to a cash-for-jobs scam when he was the Transport Minister during an earlier AIADMK regime.

The ED had arrested Balaji in connection with an Enforcement Case Information Register (ECIR) filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in 2021.

The ECIR was registered on the basis of three FIRs lodged against him by the local police in 2018 for his alleged involvement in a cash-for-job case when he was the Transport Minister in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet in 2015.

The charges date back to his tenure as transport minister during the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government from 2011 to 2015.

He joined the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in December 2018 and assumed office as the Electricity Minister after the party came to power in May 2021.

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