SC dismisses pleas challenging arrest of TN Minister Senthil Balaji by ED

A bench comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and M.M. Sundresh allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to take Balaji into custody till August 12

Supreme Court of India (photo: IANS)
Supreme Court of India (photo: IANS)


The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the pleas filed by arrested Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthil Balaji and his wife against the Madras High Court's decision upholding the ED's right to take the DMK leader into custody in connection with an alleged cash for jobs scandal.

A bench comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and M.M. Sundresh allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to take Balaji into custody till August 12.  

The bench held that writ of habeas corpus filed by S. Megala, the wife of the arrested minister was not maintainable challenging the remand order. 

The Supreme Court on August 02 reserved its verdict in the clutch of pleas after hearing the both sides and had refused to pass any interim direction relating to police remand sought by the ED. 

Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, representing Balaji, had argued that after expiry of 15 days from arrest, an accused cannot be detained in police custody. 

Earlier on July 21, the Supreme Court had issued notice on the petitions filed and sought response of the Enforcement Directorate on the pleas. 

The top court had agreed to urgently list the pleas after it was apprehended that Balaji may be taken into police custody anytime and if the matter is not heard immediately, the petitions will become infructuous.

The minister and his wife have approached the top court of the country after a bench of Justice C.V. Karthikeyan of the high court, the third judge to whom the matter was referred, gave its ruling that the central agency has the right to arrest the legislator. It had said that if the agency can arrest, they can also seek custody as well.

Notably, the ED has also filed another petition before the top court challenging some observations made by the high court in its order. 

The habeas corpus petition challenging arrest of Balaji by the Enforcement Directorate was heard by a three-judge bench on directions of the Supreme Court after a split verdict was pronounced by a division bench on the plea moved by the legislator’s wife.

In a split verdict delivered on July 4, Justice J. Nisha Banu termed the arrest of the minister illegal and ordered him to be set free with immediate effect, while Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy differed on the question of his “illegal” detention.

S. Megala, the wife of the arrested minister had moved a petition before the high court assailing her husband’s arrest by the ED in connection with a cash-for-jobs scam that allegedly occurred during his tenure as the Transport Minister from 2011 to 2016 in the then AIADMK government.

In an interim direction passed on June 15, the High Court had ordered to transfer the minister from a government hospital where he was under the custody of ED officials to a private hospital. The ED had filed an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging this.

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