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Supreme Court Slams Tamil Nadu Police For Hasty Arrest Of AIADMK Leader Rajenthra Balaji; Grants Him Bail For 4 Weeks

Srishti Ojha
12 Jan 2022 8:44 AM GMT
Supreme Court Slams Tamil Nadu Police For Hasty Arrest Of AIADMK Leader Rajenthra Balaji; Grants Him Bail For 4 Weeks

The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday granted bail for four weeks to former AIADMK Minister K.T. Rajenthrabhalaji accused in a Government job scam. The Bench recorded, "Taking into consideration of all the facts and orders passed by us in suo moto case where we gave directions to decongest the prisons due to covid, for time being we grant bail to the petitioner for period of 4...

The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday granted bail for four weeks to former AIADMK Minister K.T. Rajenthrabhalaji accused in a Government job scam.

The Bench recorded, "Taking into consideration of all the facts and orders passed by us in suo moto case  where we gave directions to decongest the prisons due to covid, for time being we grant bail to the petitioner for period of 4 weeks subject to the condition that the petitioner shouldn't leave jurisdiction of the police station where the crime was registered. He has to surrender the passport to the concerned Magistrate and has to participate and cooperate with investigating agencies. List matter after three weeks. Meanwhile the State to file a detailed counter affidavit".

The Bench has directed the order to be communicated to the concerned Magistrate/ Incharge Magistrate, and petitioner to be released after filing necessary papers before the concerned Magistrate. 

A Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant, and Justice Hima Kohli was hearing a special leave petition challenging Madras High Court's order rejecting anticipatory bail applications filed by Rajenthrabhalaji and a writ petition filed challenging his arrest and seeking quashing of FIRs filed against him. 

The Bench noted the following submissions made by the petitioner Counsel Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave:

  • The Petitioner was arrested and was taken 300 kms away and kept in Trichy jail which wasn't in jurisdiction of the court where he was arrested.
  • No notice was served to him to appear for any investigation or inquiry.
  • In addition to this, the advocates who appeared for petitioners their offices were raided.

"This Issue Has Become Very Complicated Now": Supreme Court Pulls Up State Of Tamil Nadu:

On Mr Dave's submissions that the former Minister after his arrest was taken to a jail in Trichy which was 300 km away from the place of arrest instead of being taken to the prison in Madurai, the Bench sought response from the State.

Advocate Dr.Joseph Aristotle appearing for the State on instructions informed the Bench that the petitioner had to be taken to Trichy jail for safety reasons.

"Why what happened to him? He is a targeted person, and by whom? I don't understand. The issue has become very complicated now," CJI said.

"The incidents mentioned, if they are serious and it has happened, it is a matter of serious consequences. It appears we have to take a serious view and it requires an inquiry," CJI said

"The fact that you didn't issue any notice to him, the manner in which you arrested him, the fact that you took him 300 kms away from jurisdictional jail, all these facts as pointed by CJI, the prima facie inclination is we must order a judicial inquiry," Justice Surya Kant said.

"Availability is also an issue," AAG Krishnamurthy said.

"Your jails are so crowded now in your State? We are passing orders for decongestion of all jails in suo moto case and we have been saying that those not involved in serious offences etc be realised, and you are not de crowding your jail despite our order?", the Bench remarked 

The Bench was later informed that that petitioner was moved from Madurai prison because that prison didn't have A-class facilities that are to be given to a former Minister. The Bench asked the State to mention the same in its counter-affidavit. 

His arrest before Supreme Court Hearing was a matter of Chance: Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi for State

The Bench stated that the State in its affidavit has admitted the fact that information of SLP against High Court's order rejecting bail being filed before the top court was given to them, despite that they went ahead and conducted raids at different places

"We have no tolerance for any corrupt practice but we are only examining if there's any element of political vendetta", CJI said

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted for the State that the complaint was given on 28th August, FIR was registered on 15th November and anticipatory bail before High Court remained pending for 4 weeks but he wasn't arrested.

"After the bail got dismissed, he has been absconding, how can an absconder move the Supreme Court and ask for relief? It is a matter of chance that he was picked up on 5th January. It is not that the team was informed every moment that the Supreme Court has been moved, it will come up etc. He was arrested after 4 months", Mr Rohatgi said.

"The matter was filed after dismissal of anticipatory bail and was pending here. It couldn't be taken up due to vacation. By the time it is listed, he is arrested. He is entitled to have his matter heard." CJI said

"The manner in which he has been arrested, the manner in which the house of his Advocate has been raided, and Advocate's wife was asked to disclose his whereabouts, that is objectionable", Justice Surya Kant said

"If this is the way, we have to order inquiry into activity of your police, how they behave with lawyers also. This is how the police will behave?" CJI remarked.

Responding to State's submission that the Advocate was harbouring the accused, Justice Surya Kant remarked, "So an accused has no right to go to the lawyer?"

Mr Rohatgi further submitted that there are 32 complaints and 8 statements under Section 164 of CrPC against him, saying that money was given to him as per his own directions. 

" We Are Increasingly Become A Police State" : Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave

" Today it's become very, I would say with greatest respect that, we are increasingly becoming a Police State where every citizen can be arrested and Subordinate Magistracy is not standing up to protect citizens' rights", Mr Dave remarked

During the hearing today, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for the petitioner argued that there's no case made against the petitioner in the FIR and so section 406 IPC doesn't apply. So far as charge of cheating is concerned there was no inducement on part of the Minister to people to part with their properties.

Arguing that this is a case of political vendetta, Mr Dave submitted that even after he was refused anticipatory bail by the High Court, he shouldn't have been arrested as also said by the Supreme Court in 2003 that even if anticipatory bail is rejected, the arrest shouldn't be arrested right away.

Referring to the arrest of the petitioner even when his SLP was pending before Mr Dave said "Is this not sufficient for me to come here, your lordships have to protect liberties of citizens? The case is ex facie not made out against him".

Mr Dave submitted that no summons were issued to him to appear, and incorrect statements are made saying that petitioner didn't appear for inquiry to prejudice the court.

Mr Dave argued that the State is in contempt by overreaching the Supreme Court and preventing the court from hearing the petitioner's anticipatory bail application. He argued that the whole attempt was to take away his right to move the supreme court.

Mr Dave said " The State should be hold up by this Court. An innocent citizen should not be treated like this, like they are saying I should go to the Magistrate and ask for reliefs. The magistrate having passed the order hasn't even given us a copy of the remand order yet. And look at the police. I am taken 300 kms away and kept in a jail in Trichy and not in a jail where the Magistrate passed the order. The State is clearly acting in political vendetta." 

On last occasion ( 10th January), the Bench had expressed its inclination towards granting a one month interim bail to Rajenthrabhalaji, till the court decides the case. However, after Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the State of Tamil Nadu urged the Court to allow him to place preliminary investigation material on record before the court passes any order, the Bench adjourned the matter.

Earlier, the Court of India had criticized the State of Tamil Nadu for arresting former AIADMK Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji even when his plea was pending before the Supreme Court and for the alleged raids on the lawyers who represented him.The Bench had directed AAG Krishnamurthy to file a counter affidavit and seek instructions.

A single-judge bench of Madras High Court had in the impugned order noted that it is pertinent for the investigation to be concluded first and it is not inclined to grant anticipatory bail in a matter pertaining to job racketeering allegations, regardless of the position or status of the alleged person.

Virudhanagar District Crime Branch had registered a cheating case under Section 420 IPC against the former minister and his personal assistants. The first complainant, one of the alleged victims, Mr S Raveendran accused K Nallathambi of collecting Rs 30 lakhs from him, whom he says he met via Mariappan, another AIADMK member. S. Raveendran's case is that his nephew was promised a job as the manager in Aavin (state diary board); he handed over the money to Nallathambi after he met with the then Milk & Dairy Development Minister Rajenthra Bhalaji.

On the same day at 5 pm, K Vijaya Nallathambi, allegedly a close aid of Bhalaji, filed a separate complaint with the police alleging that he has been made a tool to further the ulterior motives of the Minister and swindle money from a large number of job aspirants.

On 30th November, the High Court had reserved orders on the two anticipatory bail applications in cases registered against the former minister for swindling money from the public by promising government jobs.

Case Title: K.T. Rajenthrabhalaji vs State Through Inspector of Police

 Click Here To Read/Download Order

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