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Supreme Court Requests Third Judge for Senthil Balaji's Case Following Split Verdict in Madras High Court

By Jhanak Singh      05 July, 2023 10:17 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Requests Third Judge for Senthil Balaji's Case Following Split Verdict in Madras High Court

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Madras High Court's Chief Justice to assign a habeas corpus plea challenging arrest of Tamil Nadu's Minister Senthil Balaji to a third judge following the split verdict delivered by a division bench on July 4.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta requested the Chief Justice of the High Court to place the matter before a third judge at the earliest for a decision as early as possible.

Appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, submitted before the court that the High Court's division bench delivered the split verdict earlier on the day.

He said as the issue related to a pure question of law whether a plea of habeas corpus would lie in a case of arrest, the top court may itself decide the issue.

Mehta also submitted after the split verdict, the matter would go before a third judge in the High Court, which would take one month or so for a decision.

He also expressed his apprehension that the Minister was an influential person and there could be tampering of evidence on everyday basis and the damage caused to the investigating agency would be irreversible.

On behalf of the Minister, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Devadatt Kamat, asked how the High Court could be bypassed in this manner. They said the top court had earlier asked the High Court to decide the matter. Let the matter be examined by a third judge as per the procedure, they said.

The bench said it would ask the HC's Chief Justice to nominate a third judge to hear the plea filed by Megala, the Minister's wife.

The court also said that the pendency of the matter before it would have no bearing on the decision by the High Court.

During the hearing, the court also sought to know if the Minister would be released on bail after the split verdict. On this, Sibal said he would remain in judicial custody as per the position in law. Mehta asked the court to record this in the order. The court said he would remain in judicial custody unless decided otherwise.

The bench scheduled the matter for consideration on July 24.

In the High Court, Justice J Nisha Banu declared the Minister’s arrest as illegal and held the habeas corpus petition maintainable, while Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy ruled that the plea was not maintainable, since the petitioner had not made out a case to hold that the remand was illegal.

The Minister was arrested by the ED on June 14 in a money laundering case related to cash-for-job scam during his tenure as Transport Minister between 2011 and 2016.

Immediately thereafter, the Minister complained of chest pain, he was admitted to a hospital.

Subsequently, he underwent coronary artery bypass at Chennai’s Kauvery Hospital.

The Supreme Court had in May allowed the CBI and the ED to quiz him in the cash-for-job case



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