Madras High Court orders re-transfer of Senthilbalaji case from special court to sessions court

Justices R. Suresh Kumar and K. Kumaresh Babu hold that the case must be tried only before the Principal Sessions Court and not before the special court for MP/MLA cases in Chennai

September 04, 2023 08:52 pm | Updated September 05, 2023 03:49 pm IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji. File

Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji. File | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The money-laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Minister V. Senthilbalaji took another interesting turn on Monday, September 4, 2023 with the Madras High Court ruling against the recent transfer of the case from the Principal Sessions Court to a special court for MP/MLA cases on the basis of a 2019 State Government Order.

To get today’s top stories from the State in your inbox, subscribe to our Tamil Nadu Today newsletter

A Division Bench of Justices R. Suresh Kumar and K. Kumaresh Babu ordered the re-transfer of the case from the special court to the Principal Sessions Court, which had been designated by the Centre, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court in 2016, to hear all cases filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

The orders were passed on a petition filed by the Minister seeking a clarification as to whether his bail petition should be heard by the Principal Sessions Court or the special court for cases against legislators. Senior Counsel N.R. Elango told the Bench that the Sessions Court had transferred the case bundle to the special court last month for trial.

Thereafter, the special court refused to entertain the Minister’s bail petition citing Section 43(1) of the PMLA, under which only the Centre, and not the State government, was empowered to designate the court empowered to hear PMLA cases. The Sessions Court, too, returned the bail petition on the ground that the case had already been transferred to the special court.

After perusing the 2019 G.O., which requires the transfer of all cases against legislators to special courts, the Division Bench said the G.O. could not override Section 43(1), a statutory provision under which only the Centre was empowered to designate a court, in consultation with the Chief Justice, to hear PMLA cases. The Centre had done so in 2016.

Unlike the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, under which both the Centre and the State government were empowered to designate the courts for hearing cases filed under that legislation, the PMLA does not authorise the State governments to designate a court and, therefore, the 2019 G.O. could not be relied upon for the transfer, the Bench held.

It also clarified that the bail petition moved by the Minister without portfolio would also have to be heard only by the Principal Sessions Court. The orders were passed after hearing N. Ramesh, Special Public Prosecutor for ED, on the legal issue of which court was empowered to hear the money-laundering case.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.