Jailed Tamil Nadu Minister without portfolio, V. Senthil Balaji, suffered a legal setback on Thursday as the Madras High Court rejected his bail application.
Justice G. Jayachandran rejected his bail plea after accepting the prosecution's contention that he was an influential person, and therefore, there was every possibility of him attempting to tamper with the evidence and influence the witnesses if he were released from custody.
Case against Balaji
Senthil Balaji was arrested by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) on June 14 in an alleged money laundering case linked to a cash-for-jobs scam that occurred when he was Transport Minister in the erstwhile AIADMK Government during 2011-15. He has remained in custody since then, and Chief Minister MK Stalin retained him in the Cabinet without a portfolio. He was the Minister for Electricity and Prohibition when he was arrested.
He had sought bail solely on health grounds while reserving his right to seek bail on merits when the circumstances so warranted.
Balaji's bail plea was rejected due to his 'influence'
The court accepted the arguments of Additional Solicitor General AR.L. Sundaresan that the very fact of the petitioner continuing to be a Minister even after four months of his arrest was evidence of the influence he wields.
The judge noted the ED's stand that Senthil Balaji's brother, V. Ashok Kumar, remained absconding. This, coupled with the attack on Income Tax officials when they conducted a search and seizure operation in Ashok Kumar’s premises in May, would indicate that the Minister may cause harm to the prosecution, as the agency had contended.