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"We Are Liberal Now In Granting Bail Because Of Covid": Supreme Court In Case Of AIADMK Leader K.T. Rajenthrabhalaji

Srishti Ojha
10 Jan 2022 2:39 PM GMT
We Are Liberal Now In Granting Bail Because Of Covid: Supreme Court In Case Of AIADMK Leader K.T. Rajenthrabhalaji
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The Supreme Court of India on Monday expressed its inclination towards granting a one month interim bail to former AIADMK Minister K.T. Rajenthrabhalaji accused in a Government job scam.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...

The Supreme Court of India on Monday expressed its inclination towards granting a one month interim bail to former AIADMK Minister K.T. Rajenthrabhalaji accused in a Government job scam.

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 Bhalaji.

The Bench proposed to grant one-month interim bail to the petitioner till the court decides the case, and liberty to the State to file the relevant documents before the Court in the meanwhile.

"We are very liberal now. Because of covid, we are granting bail to all people," the CJI orally observed.

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 till 10th January.

During the hearing today, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for the petitioner submitted that in the Covid prisoners matter, the Supreme Court had itself categorically said that authorities must circumspect before arresting someone and sending them to jail.

He submitted that recently, a Bench led by Justice SK Kaul warned every Magistrate and every police official in the country to not arrest people for offences where the sentence is 7 years or less

Mr Dave submitted that the High court's order was passed on 17th December, and on 24th December, the petitioner wrote to the Superintendent of Police and the Inspector and requested him that he may not be arrested as he has moved the Supreme Court. Despite that, they arrested him in January.

"This is serious, these aren't heinous offences, the complaint is without any substance as far my client is concerned. The FIR is against two people, there are a series of cases pending against accused number 1 since 2021. He apparently was taking money on names of various people including my name. The complainant hasn't even spoken to me," Mr Dave submitted

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the State submitted that complaint was made on 28th August 2021 to the police that the complainant had paid 30 lakhs to the agent of the petitioner, statements were recorded under Section 161 CrPC and statements are yet to be recorded under section 164 CrPC. He added that they have received 32 such complaints in total.

Mr Rohatgi further said, "We registered an FIR on 15th November, from the time he went to the High Court till his anticipatory bail plea was rejected, no steps were taken to arrest him even when he was leading public rallies. He is absconding from 17th December, he was arrested on 5th January from the Border in Karnataka, he was running from place to place. His agent was giving money back to the people."

Mr Rohatgi submitted that many people have made complaints and have given money ranging from 2 lakhs to 30 lakhs to the petitioner. He argued that the position in the present matter is, that it is a well-oiled job racket in which people were offered various jobs.

"There was no haste in arresting the petitioner, we did a preliminary investigation, he has been absconding and didn't participate in inquiry. His only relief is bail, there's no question of saying that we picked him up. It is a wrong statement that we raided his lawyers, we received information that he was there, we went there and came back," Mr Rohatgi said

The Bench then pointed out that according to the complainant's affidavit he did not meet the petitioner.

"The Minister was carrying out a job racket, the Minister is not going to meet everyone" Rohatgi said

Addressing Mr Rohatgi, Justice Surya Kant said " If this kind of allegation is accepted, then anybody on the earth, whether it's a Minister, judicial officer, army officer or holding any position, somebody will come meet him, go back and say yes I met him and have given him money. Is it not very dangerous?"

The Bench asked if some preliminary investigation was done to see if some money was passed onto the petitioner. 

Mr Rohatgi then sought to place the details of the preliminary investigation before the Court.

"Ask him why is he not attending the inquiry? He has been in a public position, he is absconding and running," Mr Rohatgi remarked

"No they threatened to arrest him that's why," Mr Dave said.

On the last occasion, the Supreme 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 

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