Minister without portfolio V. Senthilbalaji who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case on June 14, has approached the Madras High Court seeking bail solely on medical grounds and has reserved his right to seek bail on merits when the circumstances so warrant.
Justice G. Jayachandran on Wednesday permitted ED Special Public Prosecutor N. Ramesh to take notice of the petition and accepted a request made by Additional Solicitor-General AR.L. Sundaresan to grant time till October 16 for filing the prosecution’s objection to this bail plea.
Senior counsel N.R. Elango urged the court to take into consideration the most recent health complication that the Minister had faced on October 8, when he was taken from the Puzhal Central Prison to the Government Stanley Hospital in Chennai and diagnosed with lacunar stroke symptoms and dyslipidemia.
In his petition, the Minister said the Supreme Court itself had enlarged many accused persons on bail solely on humanitarian and medical grounds and asserted his right to get treatment in a hospital of his choice and avail himself of Ayurvedic medication as well without being confined to the prison hospital.
He recalled to have suffered chest pain right after his arrest and said the ED officials themselves had admitted him to a government hospital in Chennai. The doctors found three blocks in his arteries and recommended that he undergo a Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting immediately. Thereafter, he was moved to Kauvery Hospital in Chennai on an order passed by a Division Bench of the High Court on June 15, 2023, and underwent the surgery. Subsequently, he was taken to the Puzhal Central Prison on July 17, 2023, and subjected to custodial interrogation for six days in August 2023.
“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 was advised by doctors not to sit or stand for a long time and requires further treatment,” the petition read.
It further said the Minister had cooperated with ED officials during his custodial interrogation even as he was recuperating after his surgery and there could be no need for his continuous incarceration now since the ED had already filed its final report before the lower court concerned.
The Minister further said the ED could not object to his bail plea citing the possibility of his tampering with evidence since the materials were documentary.
So far, there had been no complaint of his or his family members having made any attempt to influence any of the witnesses, he added.
Claiming that the prosecution too would not deny medical treatment being undertaken by him, he said, “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.”