ED denies Sibal’s charge that Senthilbalaji was asked to join BJP during interrogation

Nobody was arraigned as accused except the Minister, and they were not even shown as witnesses, says his lawyer

Updated - September 15, 2023 10:44 pm IST

Published - September 15, 2023 10:17 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) on Friday denied senior counsel Kapil Sibal’s charge that Minister without portfolio V. Senthilbalaji was asked by the agency during interrogation to join the BJP.

During the hearing in the bail application of the Minister, who is in judicial custody following his arrest by the ED in an alleged money laundering case, Mr. Sibal, appearing for him before Principal Sessions Judge S. Alli, said, “Off the record, the ED during interrogation asked why don’t you (Balaji) join the BJP.”

The ED counsel reacted by saying, “No, no.”

Mr. Sibal submitted that the entire proceedings by the ED against Mr. Senthilbalaji was mala fide. The allegation related to cash-for-jobs and nobody was arraigned as accused except him. They were not even shown as witnesses. This case was registered out of political malice. The Minister was targeted, he claimed.

He said the petitioner would not tamper with the records or influence the witnesses. The petitioner underwent a surgery. Therefore, considering his sickness, bail might be granted to him, he added.

Senior counsel N.R. Elango, also appearing for Mr. Senthilbalaji, submitted that there was no cogent material to show that the Minister was guilty. All the documents connected to the case were with the ED and they could not be tampered with, he added.

Additional Solicitor General A.R.L. Sunderesan, appearing for the ED, submitted that the predicate offence was cash-for-jobs scam, which was sufficient to proceed further under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). There was an attempt to compensate by way of compromise. There was plenty of evidence to expose the cash-for-jobs scam and the burden of proof was on Mr. Senthilbalaji to prove that he was not guilty. The witnesses would be influenced because he was a Minister, he charged.

After hearing the arguments, the Judge reserved orders on the bail plea till September 20. The judge also extended the remand of Mr. Senthilbalaji till September 29.

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