Court allows ED’s plea for custodial interrogation of hospitalised Senthilbalaji

Judge says the ED Deputy Director should not remove the Minister from Kauvery Hospital and the agency should interrogate him at the hospital by taking into consideration his ailments

Published - June 17, 2023 12:14 am IST - CHENNAI

Police personnel outside Kauvery Hospital, where Minister V. Senthilbalaji has been admitted, in Chennai on Friday.

Police personnel outside Kauvery Hospital, where Minister V. Senthilbalaji has been admitted, in Chennai on Friday. | Photo Credit: M. SRINATH

The Principal District Sessions Court, Chennai, on Friday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to conduct “custodial interrogation”, for eight days (until June 23), of Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji, who was arrested in an alleged money-laundering case, and is hospitalised.

Passing orders on a petition filed by the ED for custodial interrogation of the Minister, Principal Sessions Judge S. Alli stipulated that the Deputy Director of the Enforcement Directorate should not remove Mr. Senthilbalaji from Kauvery Hospital, Chennai, where he was transferred from the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital on Thursday night.

The judge said the agency should interrogate him at the hospital by taking into consideration his ailments and the treatment given to him after obtaining the opinion of the doctors, who are treating him, on his fitness for interrogation.

The Deputy Director of the ED was directed to provide sufficient food and shelter to him and was restrained from using any third-degree method or causing any cruelty to the accused. The court said, “No threat or coercion will be made on the accused. The family members of the accused are to be permitted to see the accused during the custody, subject to medical advice.”

The agency was directed to provide security to the accused while he is in its custody and to produce him at 3 p.m. June 23 through videoconference.

The court also dismissed the petition filed by Mr. Senthilbalaji for interim bail. The judge said, “Keeping in view the observations of the Supreme Court of India in respect of granting of interim bail on medical grounds and the fact that the accused being admitted to a hospital from the time of his arrest and shifted to another hospital of his choice and now under treatment and also considering the nature and gravity of the offence said to have been committed by the accused, the court is of the view that he may not be released on interim bail on medical grounds, as prayed for by him.”

Early surgery advised

A team of doctors, who assessed Mr. Senthilbalaji after he was shifted to Kauvery Hospital at Alwarpet, on the night of June 15, has advised an early coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. He was undergoing tests to assess fitness for anaesthesia, based on which the surgery would be planned, according to a medical bulletin issued on Friday.

In the bulletin, Aravindan Selvaraj, executive director, Kauvery Group of Hospitals, said the Minister was referred to the hospital with a history of cardiac symptoms. He was assessed by a team of expert doctors, led by A.R. Raghuram, senior consultant cardio thoracic surgeon, who has advised an early CABG surgery.

Mr. Senthilbalaji was being treated in the intensive care unit with cardiac monitoring and looked after by a multi-disciplinary team of doctors and nurses, the bulletin said.

The ED arrested the Minister on June 14 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 First Information Reports booked against him by the local police in 2018 for his alleged involvement in a job racket when he was the Transport Minister in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet in 2015.

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

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