Supreme Court allows ED custody of Tamil Nadu minister Senthil Balaji
Supreme Court allows ED custody of TN minister Senthil Balaji, affirms the legality of arrest.
The Supreme Court on Monday granted permission to the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) to take custody of the arrested Tamil Nadu minister, Senthil Balaji and upheld the legality of the arrest of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party leader.
While dismissing the appeals put forth by Minister Balaji and his wife, Megala, challenging the Madras High Court's ruling that affirmed his arrest in a money laundering case, the bench of Justices A S Bopanna and M M Sundresh from the SC has, however, referred the issue of whether police custody can extend beyond the initial 15-day remand period to a larger bench.
Despite his arrest on June 14, Balaji, who continues his ministerial role without a portfolio in the Tamil Nadu government, and his wife contested the Madras High Court's decision that upheld his arrest by the investigative agency. The arrest is connected to a money laundering case related to the alleged cash-for-jobs scandal within the state's transport department.
Balaji and his wife argued in the apex court that once the 15-day period from the date of arrest has passed, the investigating agency cannot seek custodial interrogation as it is not permitted under the law.
The couple had previously challenged the authority of the ED in the Supreme Court, asserting that officials of the anti-money laundering probe agency are not considered police officers.
The ED took Balaji into custody based on an Enforcement Case Information Register (ECIR) filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in 2021.
The ECIR was initiated following three First Information Reports (FIRs) lodged against him by local police in 2018, accusing him of being involved in a cash-for-job scheme during his tenure as the Transport Minister in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet in 2015.
Recently, the Enforcement Directorate conducted raids at the residence of Senthil Balaji's personal assistant, Shankar, in Karur district as part of its ongoing money laundering investigation. Officials seized two bags of documents from his house.
(Input from wires)