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TN Minister Senthilbalaji’s judicial remand extended till Oct 20

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Chennai: A Sessions Court on Friday extended till Ocotber 20, the judicial remand of Tamil Nadu Minister without portfolio V.Senthilbalaji, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case.

The Minister was produced from Puzhal Central prison through video conferencing before First Additional Sessions Judge D.Lingeshwaran, who extended his judicial custody by a week till October 20.

Meanwhile, the bail plea of the Minister will come up for hearing in the Madras High on October 16.

After his bail pleas were twice rejected by the Principal Sessions Court, which is the trial court, the Minister’s Counsel N.R.Elango moved the High Court seeking bail purely on medical grounds as he had underwent a coronary bypass surgery.

On Wednesday, after the matter was listed before Mr Justice G.Jayachandran, he ordered notice to the ED and adjourned the matter to October 16 for further hearing.

Mr Senthilbalaji was arrested in a money laundering case on June 14 in connection with the cash for jobs scam during his tenure as Transport Minister during the 2011-2016 AIADMK regime and underwent a bypass surgery at a private hospital.

In his plea, the Minister submitted that the Supreme Court itself had enlarged many accused on bail solely on humanitarian and medical grounds and preferred treatment at the hospital of his choice.

The Minister also further submitted that he has the right to be treated in a hospital of his choice, without being confined to the prison hospital.

Stating that he had suffered a chest pain after his arrest on June 14 early morning and was admitted to a government hospital, he said during the tests the doctors found three blocks in arteries and had recommended a Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) immediately.

Later, on the orders of the High Court on a Habeas Corpus petition filed by his wife, he was shifted to Kauvery Hospital in the city, where has been regularly undergoing treatment prior to his arrest abd underwent the bypass surgery.

After discharge from the hospital, he was shifted to the Puzhal Central Prison on July 17, 2023 and was also subjected to custodial interrogation by the ED on the orders of the Supreme Court based on which permission was sought from the trial court (PSJ Court).

“Despite the medications that are being taken under the care of the Puzhal prison hospital, his recovery is very slow and he is still suffering from chest discomfort, pain, severe numbness and discomfort on the left leg (surgical side), he said in the petition.

He also contended that he was advised by doctors to not sit or stand for a long time and required further treatment.

In the petition, the Minister also said that he had cooperated with the ED officials during the custodial interrogation, while recuperating from heart surgery, and that there was no need for his continuous incarceration even after nearly 118 days as the ED had also filed its final report before the PSJ Court, which had transferred the case to the Special Court trying
cases against elected MPs and MLAs and was subsequently re-transferred back to the PSJ Court for trial on High Court orders.

The Minister also said his bail plea could not be objected to by the ED by citing the possibility of tampering with evidence since the materials were documentary in nature, while submitting that so far, there was no complaint against him or his family members having made any attempt to influence any of the witnesses in the case.

Stating that he suffered severe uneasiness as recently as on October 8, the Minister said the prison authorities took him to Government Stanley Hospital, where the doctors diagnosed him as suffering from lacunar stroke symptoms and dyslipidemia.

The Minister claimed that the prosecution too, had not denied the medical treatment undertaken by him, but had only been claiming that he could be treated at the prison hospital itself.

“Merely because treatment is given in the prison hospital, it will not disentitle the petitioner to get better treatment at a hospital of his choice,” the petition said, adding he has reserved his right to seek bail on merits when the circumstances so warrant.

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