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On the arrest of Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji and its aftermath
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T.N. Minister Senthilbalaji withdraws plea for medical bail after judge says ‘he seems to be hale and hearty’

Senthilbalaji’s counsel urged the court to allow him to withdraw his petition and apply the trial court for regular bail.

November 28, 2023 11:45 am | Updated 03:19 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate for money laundering charges. File

Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate for money laundering charges. File | Photo Credit: S. Siva Saravanan

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 allowed Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji to withdraw his petition seeking medical bail in the cash-for-jobs scam.

Justice Bela M. Trivedi, after going through his medical records, orally remarked that Mr. Senthilbalaji “seemed to be hale and hearty”.

But senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for the Minister, said his condition made him vulnerable to a brain stroke. Mr. Rohatgi said Mr. Senthilbalaji was “sick”.

“Then several inmates in prisons should be sick…” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), countered.

Mr. Rohatgi said the question was whether the Minister was sick or not. The law only required the undertrial to be “infirm” to exercise his right to seek medical treatment.

Justice Trivedi pointed out that Mr. Senthilbalaji was a Minister “without a portfolio”.

“What has that got to do with my plea for bail on medical grounds? I may be a Minister without a portfolio, my brother may be absconding…. My plea is for bail for medical treatment,” Mr. Rohatgi queried.

Justice Trivedi said the court was not satisfied with Mr. Senthilbalaji’s petition for medical bail.

Mr. Rohatgi urged the court to allow him to withdraw his petition and apply the trial court for regular bail.

The Bench permitted him to withdraw the plea and said the observations passed by the lower courts while declining Mr. Senthilbalaji’s medical bail would not influence his plea for regular bail. The court kept all the contentions for both the Minister and the ED open to be argued during regular bail.

The Minister is being investigated by the ED for money laundering charges.

In August, the Supreme Court had upheld a Madras High Court order allowing the ED to have police custody of him.

Metropolitan Transport Corporation jobs

Mr. Senthilbalaji is accused of taking bribes in exchange for jobs in the Metro Transport Corporation.

In May, the court had given the green signal for initiation of proceedings by the ED. The judgment in May had eventually led to the arrest of the Minister.

In the previous hearing, Mr. Rohatgi had said Mr. Senthilbalaji had undergone a heart surgery and was suffering from multiple health issues, including the probability of a stroke.

The court had at the time asked Mr. Senthilbalaji to place on record his medical records.

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