Jailed Tamil Nadu Minister Senthilbalaji resigns from Cabinet

The case against Mr. Senthilbalaji has its roots in an alleged cash for job scam in the Metropolitan Transport Corporation that took place when he was the Transport Minister (2011-15) in the Jayalalithaa Cabinet

Updated - February 13, 2024 02:45 pm IST

Published - February 12, 2024 10:03 pm IST - Chennai

Jailed Tamil Nadu Minister without portfolio V. Senthilbalaji resigned from the Cabinet on February 12, 2024. File 

Jailed Tamil Nadu Minister without portfolio V. Senthilbalaji resigned from the Cabinet on February 12, 2024. File  | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Jailed Tamil Nadu Minister without portfolio V. Senthilbalaji, who was arrested in June last year by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged money laundering case, resigned from the Cabinet on Monday (February 12).

While well placed sources in the government confirmed he had sent his resignation to Chief Minister M. K. Stalin from the Puzhal Central Prison, at the time of filing this report, there was no official communication on the same.

The case has its roots in an alleged cash for job scam in the Metropolitan Transport Corporation that took place when Mr. Senthilbalaji was the Transport Minister (2011-15) in the Jayalalithaa Cabinet.

Also Read: Senthilbalaji case | ED searches T.N. Minister’s house at Karur for the second time

Before his arrest, Mr. Senthilbalaji was holding the plum portfolios of Electricity, Excise and Prohibition. Mr. Stalin had retained him as Minister without portfolio and allocated the subjects to two other senior colleagues.

Last month, while hearing his bail petition, the Madras High Court had questioned the propriety behind Mr. Senthilbalaji continuing to be a Minister without portfolio despite having been imprisoned for over 230 days in a money laundering case booked by the ED.

What does Senthilbalaji’s arrest mean for the Stalin-led Tamil Nadu government? 

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh had wondered how a person could be allowed to continue in the Cabinet even after incarceration for so long when even the last grade employee of the State is deemed to have been suspended from service if he/she remains incarcerated for more than 48 hours in a criminal case.

The judge had recalled that even the first Division Bench of the High Court led by its Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala had in September 2023 observed that a Minister without portfolio is a constitutional travesty even though the law does not permit a court to order removal of such a Minister.

“I don’t want to get into the politics behind his continuation in the Cabinet because I am much, much away from that but what I am saying is that it does not augur well for the system... This is something which is disturbing me and therefore I thought I should not keep it to myself... I think better sense must prevail in this case because that will have a real bearing if ultimately a decision is taken in that regard,” the judge told his senior counsel.

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