19 Jun 2023 6:25 AM GMT
Supreme Court has agreed to hear on June 21 a plea filed by Enforcement Directorate against a Madras High Court order which permitted transfer of arrested Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister Senthil Balaji to a private hospital.Balaji was arrested by the ED on June 13 in connection with Cash-for-job Scam which allegedly occurred during his tenure as the Transportation Minister under the AIADMK...
Supreme Court has agreed to hear on June 21 a plea filed by Enforcement Directorate against a Madras High Court order which permitted transfer of arrested Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister Senthil Balaji to a private hospital.
Balaji was arrested by the ED on June 13 in connection with Cash-for-job Scam which allegedly occurred during his tenure as the Transportation Minister under the AIADMK regime between 2011-2016. His family then moved a habeas corpus petition challenging the manner of his arrest and seeking permission to transfer him to a private hospital — Kauvery Hospital, for treatment.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the matter before vacation bench of the Apex Court comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice MM Sundresh. He argued that a Habeas Corpus petition is not maintainable and moreover, transferring Balaji to private hospital was unjustified since as per Supreme Court's decision in CBI v. Anupam J. Kulkarni, investigating agency will not get custody beyond 15 days from the date of arrest.
"The judgement of your lordships says that once a person is remanded to custody, habeas does not lie. It also says that validity of detention will have to be seen at time of returnable date...He is a senior minister, quite an influential fellow...Madras High Court has entertained a Habeas Corpus petition after we arrested the accused and he is remanded to the custody. Now the accused is in the hospital and our 15 days start as per the judgement in Kulkarni. Petition is not maintainable, that is our case."
Noting that the High Court had not yet passed any order in the matter, the bench expressed its disinclination towards entertaining the plea and stated that the High Court should first be allowed to pass an order in the matter. "If we allow this in simple interlocutory orders, there would be no end," Justice Surya Kant remarked.
To this, SG Mehta said–
"There is a judicial order passed by the High Court after hearing both sides and after being shown a binding judgement. The High Court order is a basis for the remand order which says that you can interrogate him but only without disturbing his health and with the doctor's advice which renders the interrogation meaningless. Today I am only arguing on urgency, once the papers are available, I will argue on patent the illegality."
The bench then listed the matter for hearing on June 21. The Madras High Court was set to hear the matter on June 22.
A Habeas Corpus petition was filed by the family of Balaji against his arrest by the ED. The matter is listed to be heard on June 22, 2023 by the Madras High Court.
On June 15, the Madras High Court had denied interim bail to Balaji but allowed his family's request to transfer him to a private hospital — Kauvery Hospital, for treatment.
Balaji was arrested by the Enforcement Directions after an 18-hour long extensive search and interrogation conducted on June 13 at his official residence, his official chamber at the State Secretariat and his brother's residence. Following the search, at early hours on Wednesday, Balaji was arrested by the ED.
The searches were conducted in connection with a Cash-for-job Scam which allegedly occurred during Balaji's tenure as the Transportation Minister under the AIADMK regime between 2011-2016.
The Madras High Court, in November last year had ordered a fresh inquiry into the scam observing that there were irregularities. The High Court, at that time, had also dismissed a discharge petition by the Minister noting that there were enough materials for framing of charge and that the case impacts the society.
Thereafter, the Supreme Court set aside the High Court order and also set aside a direction of the High Court staying the ED proceedings. The top court gave a nod to the agency to go ahead with the investigation by including the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.