ED denies charge that Senthilbalaji is being prosecuted due to political vengeance

It says the State police itself had filed a charge-sheet against the Minister in a cash for jobs case before a special court for cases against Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly

Updated - June 27, 2023 07:38 am IST

Published - June 26, 2023 10:48 pm IST - CHENNAI

Arrested  Minister V. Senthilbalaji. File photo

Arrested  Minister V. Senthilbalaji. File photo | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has denied the claim of arrested Minister V. Senthilbalaji’s wife Megala that her husband was being prosecuted in the money laundering case out of political vengeance.

It has asserted before the Madras High Court that there was absolutely no malice in the case. Filing a counter affidavit to an additional affidavit filed by her in support of a habeas corpus petition (HCP) to declare her husband’s arrest as illegal and set him at liberty, the ED said the State police itself had filed a charge-sheet in a cash for jobs case against the Minister before a special court for cases against MPs and MLAs.

The agency said the Supreme Court itself had permitted it to continue the investigation. Therefore, “it will not lie in the mouth of the petitioner to allege that the alleged detenu is being prosecuted out of political vengeance,” it said.

The counter, filed through Special Public Prosecutor N. Ramesh and sworn by Deputy Director Karthik Dasari, also referred to the Supreme Court’s observation in May that the prosecution of the Minister for alleged offences under various penal laws could not be said to be a case of political vendetta.

The Central agency also stated that the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were deployed during the search at the official residence of the Minister on June 13 to avoid untoward incidents such as the one that happened when Income Tax officials raided his relative’s houses in Karur on May 26.

“Except to stand guard for the search operations, the CRPF had nothing to do with the proceedings, and merely because the personnel were deployed, it cannot be assumed that the alleged detenu was detained. Allegations of the petitioner in this regard are stoutly denied as false,” the counter affidavit read.

The investigating officer claimed that he was not aware of the filing of the HCP or the mentioning made before a Division Bench of Justices M. Sundar and R. Sakthivel on the morning of June 14 for an early hearing of the petition when he presented a request to the Principal Sessions Judge on the same day for remanding the Minister in judicial custody.

Even during the arguments for bail before the Principal Sessions Judge on the evening of June 14, Mr. Senthilbalaji did not inform or raise objection for its hearing by citing the pendency of the HCP. Rather, he participated in the proceedings through his counsel and argued the bail application at length, Mr. Dasari said.

“However, after the petitions were dismissed by the sessions court, the wife of the petitioner is attempting to cast aspersions on the judicial orders passed by the learned Sessions Judge by attempting to twist the facts and events. This conduct requires to be rejected, condemned and frowned upon,” he added.

The officer also pointed out that the Minister had so far not challenged the order of remand or the other order passed by the Principal Sessions Judge on June 16 permitting his custodial interrogation. He said the petitioner had also not put to challenge, so far, the rejection of his plea for bail by the sessions court on June 15.

“This HCP proceedings are being misused as a weapon to challenge valid judicial orders. The petitioner cannot be permitted to widen the scope of this proceeding under Article 226 (writ jurisdiction) of the Constitution. The HCP is not maintainable in law or on facts and is a clear abuse of process of law to somehow or other prolong the case,” the counter read.

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