T.N. Minister Senthilbalaji’s arrest | Madras High Court leaves it to Supreme Court to decide when ED can take him into custody

Justices J. Nisha Banu and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy said they had nothing more to add after what they had said their in their split verdict delivered on July 4, 2023, and since the matter is now seized of by the Supreme Court, they closed the HCP filed by Minister V. Senthilbalaji’s wife

Updated - July 25, 2023 07:35 pm IST

Published - July 25, 2023 03:45 pm IST - CHENNAI

Arrested T.N. Minister V. Senthilbalaji. File

Arrested T.N. Minister V. Senthilbalaji. File | Photo Credit: Siva Saravanan S

The Madras High Court on Tuesday, July 25, 2023 left it to the Supreme Court to decide a period during which Minister V. Senthilbalaji, arrested in a money laundering case on June 14, could be subjected to custodial interrogation by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) since the prosecution and the defence had approached the apex court.

Minister Senthilbalaji is at present, lodged at the Central Prison, Puzhal, in Chennai.

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Justices J. Nisha Banu and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy said, they had nothing more to say on the merits of the matter, other than what they had stated in clear terms in a split verdict delivered by them on a habeas corpus petition filed by the Minister’s wife Megala. Therefore the HCP could be closed and need not be kept pending.

The HCP was listed before the Division Bench on Tuesday, since Justice C.V. Karthikeyan, the third judge who heard the matter due to the split verdict and aligned with the decision taken by Justice Chakravarthy, had concluded that the dates when the ED could take custody of the Minister should be decided by the Division Bench.

However, when the Bench convened on Tuesday, Justice Banu said: “I stand by my judgement dated July 4, 2023 that the detenu’s detention is illegal and that he must be set at liberty forthwith. Now, both the parties have also approached the Supreme Court and I do not have anything further to say in the matter.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, the ED wanted to take custody of the Minister at the earliest and therefore, he was willing to argue the case before the Division Bench too, only with respect to fixing the dates for custodial interrogation if the other side was also wiling to argue the matter immediately.

On the other hand, senior counsel N.R. Elango, representing the habeas corpus petitioner, suggested that the High Court could keep the HCP pending until the Supreme Court takes a call on the appeals preferred before it. However, Justice Banu said, no purpose would be served in keeping the HCP pending.

When the senior judge solicited the opinion of the companion judge in the Bench, Justice Chakravarthy concurred with her and stated the HCP could be closed by referring to the appeals pending before the Supreme court. After accepting his opinion, the judges dispersed and asked the parties to work out their remedy before the Supreme Court.

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