Chennai: Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a cash-for-jobs case, was on Monday shifted to the Puzhal Central Prison here from a private hospital, official sources said.
The minister has been accorded ‘A’ class facilities in prison. The stipulated amenities would be made available to him in compliance with the norms. For instance, a medical check-up has been completed by mandated procedures, jail sources said.
The minister was arrested on June 14 by the ED and his remand was extended till July 26 by a court here.
Following his arrest, Senthil Balaji was hospitalised. He later underwent a coronary bypass surgery recently at a private hospital here.
On Monday, he was taken in a government ‘108 ambulance’ from the hospital, following his discharge, to the Puzhal prison amid police security.
Senthil Balaji’s incarceration follows the Madras High Court ruling on July 14 upholding his arrest by the ED in the money laundering case and his subsequent remand in judicial custody by a sessions court.
In the cash-for-jobs scam, the police filed FIRs, following which the ED registered the Enforcement Case Information Report. Subsequently, Senthil Balaji was arrested by the ED in a money laundering case connected to the scam.
Justice C V Karthikeyan, who was named as a third judge to hear the Habeas Corpus petition (HCP) of Senthil Balaji’s wife Megala, following a split verdict on it delivered by a Division Bench, fully concurred with the conclusions arrived at by Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy.
Justice Chakravarthy had said in his judgment that Senthil Balaji shall continue treatment at Kauvery Hospital “until discharge or for 10 days from today (July 4), whichever is earlier”. Thereafter, if further treatment is necessary, it can be availed at the prison/prison hospital as the case may be.
In her HCP, Megala alleged that her husband was in ED’s illegal custody and prayed that the authorities be directed to produce him before the court and set him at liberty.
In the split order of July 4, 2023, Justice Nisha Banu held that the ED had no power to take custody of Senthil Balaji, that the HCP was maintainable, and that the duration of treatment in the hospital undergone by Senthil Balaji cannot be excluded from the remand period.
However, Justice Chakravarthy ruled the ED has the power to take custody of Senthil Balaji, and that the period of treatment undergone by Senthil Balaji can be excluded from the period of custody granted by the sessions court.
The judge, referring to the HC’s interim order directing that the accused be shifted to Kauvery Hospital for treatment, noted that the surgery has been performed and that the minister is out of the Intensive Care Unit and is continuing his treatment at that hospital.
Concurring with the conclusion of Justice Chakravarthy, Justice Karthikeyan had said he left it to the wisdom of the Division Bench to determine the first date of custody and the days for which exclusion — in remand period — should be granted.
Justice Karthikeyan had said in the judgment that the matter is to be placed by the Registry before the Chief Justice so that it can be assigned to the Division Bench for necessary orders.