New Delhi – In a setback to Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to grant him bail on medical grounds in a money laundering case. The court said that Balaji’s condition does not appear to be very serious and that he can apply for regular bail before the trial court.
Balaji, a DMK leader, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in June this year in connection with a cash-for-job scam during his tenure as Transport Minister in the AIADMK government from 2011 to 2015. He is accused of taking bribes from people to appoint them to government jobs.
After his arrest, Balaji moved the Madras High Court seeking bail on medical grounds, citing his poor health condition. However, the High Court rejected his plea in September this year. Balaji then approached the Supreme Court.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi, which heard Balaji’s plea on Tuesday, said that the High Court had considered all the relevant factors while rejecting his bail plea and that there was no ground to interfere with the High Court’s order.
The bench also said that Balaji can apply for regular bail before the trial court. “If the trial court finds that Balaji’s health condition is deteriorating, it can grant him bail on medical grounds,” the bench said.
Following the Supreme Court’s order, Balaji’s counsel withdrew his bail plea.
Background of the Case
The ED case against Balaji is based on a complaint filed by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) in Tamil Nadu. The DVAC had alleged that Balaji had taken bribes from people to appoint them to government jobs during his tenure as Transport Minister.
The ED had conducted raids at Balaji’s residence and offices in June this year and seized a large amount of cash and documents. Balaji was arrested after the raids.
Reaction to the Supreme Court’s Order
The ED welcomed the Supreme Court’s order, saying that it was a vindication of its case against Balaji. “The Supreme Court’s order has upheld our case. We will continue to investigate the matter and bring the guilty to justice,” said an ED official.
The DMK, however, expressed disappointment with the Supreme Court’s order. “We are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s order. We believe that Balaji’s health condition is serious and that he should be granted bail on medical grounds,” said a DMK spokesperson.