Tamil Nadu: Court reserves order on Minister Senthil Balaji’s bail plea

Min’s counsel Kapil Sibal claims that ED officials asked why he isn’t joining the BJP

Senthil Balaji V. Senthil Balaji

The Principal Sessions Court on Friday reserved orders on DMK Minister V. Senthil Balaji’s bail plea for September 20 after hearing the arguments. Balaji was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate after searches at his official residence by the agency on June 13, in connection with a money laundering case. 

The orders were reserved by the Principal Sessions Judge S. Alli after hearing the elaborate arguments made by Senthil Balaji’s counsel Kapil Sibal and N.R. Elango, and Additional Solicitor General A.R.L. Sundaresan who appeared on behalf of ED. Balaji was arrested on June 14 by the agency in connection with a cash-for-jobs scam when he was the transport minister in the erstwhile AIADMK government under J. Jayalalithaa. The ED in its chargesheet stated that Balaji had acquired Rs.1.34 crore disproportionate to his income. 

Incidentally, in its 20-page counter affidavit, ED opposed the bail plea filed by Balaji saying that “the accused was completely non-cooperative and evasive during the course of interrogation.” ED’s Investigation Officer (IO) Karthik Dasari in the counter affidavit stated that “the prosecution has established the involvement of the accused in the recruitment process for various posts in the transport corporation after conducting extensive investigation under PMLA. The investigation into the recruitment process irregularities at MTC unveiled a series of irregularities done by MTC officials, working in collusion with Senthil Balaji, the accused herein and his personal assistants (PAs), Shanmugam and Karthikeyan.” 

The ED also established the links between Balaji and his PAs by providing details of the train ticket quota release requests filed by the latter for the former. The ED also said that it had provided ample summons and opportunities to the accused to substantiate the cash deposits made in his account by his PA Shanmugam. “He has not been able to explain or substantiate a single cash deposit during interrogation proceedings. Therefore, it is an afterthought process to create a false narrative so as to suit the convenience of the accused. Even in the present petition, he has not disclosed a single person’s name or details of who made cash deposits in his bank accounts as per the counterfoil slips of cash deposit challans,” ED said in its counter affidavit. 

Meanwhile, Kapil Sibal during his argument in the court said that the ED asked, “Why Balaji is not joining the BJP.” The ED denied this and said the counsel for the accused was making such claims to secure bail for Balaji. 

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