5 July 2023 6:28 AM GMT
Chief Justice of Madras High Court SV Gangapurwala has named Justice CV Karthikeyan to hear the habeas corpus plea filed by Megala, wife of Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate. The decision comes after a division bench gave a split verdict yesterday.Megala had filed the Habeas Corpus petition against Balaji's arrest on June 14th. The matter was...
Chief Justice of Madras High Court SV Gangapurwala has named Justice CV Karthikeyan to hear the habeas corpus plea filed by Megala, wife of Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate. The decision comes after a division bench gave a split verdict yesterday.
Megala had filed the Habeas Corpus petition against Balaji's arrest on June 14th. The matter was heard by a bench of Justice J Nisha Banu and Justice Bharatha Chaklravarthy.
The bench on Tuesday gave a split verdict with Justice Nisha Banu observing that the petition was maintainable and that ED was not entitled to seek police custody, while Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy held that Balaji's arrest did not amount to illegal detention.
Justice Banu also observed that since the Enforcement Directorate officers do not have the powers of police under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, they could not have moved for custody of the Minister. Justice Banu said that though normally CrPC governs the powers of arrest, search and seizure, these powers are also entrusted to Officers enforcing the Special Acts like NDPS, Customs, FERA, PMLA etc. She however noted that the Parliament has consciously omitted to confer with the ED Officers acting under PMLA, 2002, the power of a Station House Officer.
Differing from this opinion, Justice Chakravarthy said that when Section 65 of PMLA expressly makes it clear that the provisions in the CrPC relating to investigation will apply to PMLA, then Section 167 CrPC, should be applicable mutatis mutandis and that the word “Police” has to be read as Investigating Agency or the Enforcement Directorate.
Following the split verdict, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing in a set of appeals preferred by the Enforcement Directorate. A bench of the apex court comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta refused to accept the request of the central agency to decide the questions of law involved in the case and opted to continue waiting for the outcome of the litigation pending before the high court, as it had done earlier. However, the Supreme Court requested the Madras High Court Chief Justice to place the habeas corpus petition filed by Senthil Balaji's wife Megala before a bench at the earliest for an expeditious decision.