25 July 2023 9:46 AM GMT
The Madras High Court today closed proceedings in the habeas Corpus Petition filed by Megala, wife of Tamil Nadu minister Senthil Balaji against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate. The bench of Justice Nisha Banu and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy decided to close the matter after observing that the Supreme Court was already seized of the matter in the appeals pending before it. The...
The Madras High Court today closed proceedings in the habeas Corpus Petition filed by Megala, wife of Tamil Nadu minister Senthil Balaji against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate.
The bench of Justice Nisha Banu and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy decided to close the matter after observing that the Supreme Court was already seized of the matter in the appeals pending before it. The bench had on July 4 delivered a split verdict with Justice Banu holding that the Enforcement Directorate is not entrusted with the powers to seek police custody under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Differing from this opinion, Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy had held that the Habeas Corpus Petition is not maintainable and the ED was entitled to police custody of the accused.
The matter was then referred to Justice CV Karthikeyan, who endorsed the view of Justice Chakravarthy and ruled that the central agency was entitled to seek the custody of Balaji in the money laundering case over the alleged cash-for-jobs scam. Justice Karthikeyan noted that though the ED had not been given the powers of police specifically under the act, the fact that ED can take custody for further investigation cannot be denied.
With respect to ED's application to exclude the period of treatment while considering the period for custodial interrogation, Justice Karthikeyan, though aligning with the view of Justice Chakravarthy that such exclusion can be allowed, had referred the matter back to the division bench to decide upon the first date of custody.
"It is for the original Division Bench to re-examine the starting date of custody. But as a finding, I would hold that exclusion of time as sought is permissible. It is the prerogative of the learned Judges to determine as to when the first date of custody would begin and the manner in which it should be granted," Justice Karthikeyan had said.
When the matter was taken up by the division bench today, Justice Banu made it clear that she stood by her judgment of July 4, and hence would not be hearing anything.
"I'm not hearing anything. I'm just saying that I stand by my judgment. Now both parties have approached the SC. I do not have anything further to say in the matter," Justice Banu said.
Justice Banu noted that she could not say anything about the first date of custody since she stood by her judgment. She thus suggested that the matter can be closed and the issue pertaining to the first date of custody could be decided by the Supreme Court. Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy agreed with this.
Thus, the court ordered accordingly.
Case Title: Megala v State
Case No: HCP 1021 of 2023