The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the bail plea of Tamil Nadu Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader V Senthil Balaji in a money laundering case, Live Law reported. He had sought bail on medical grounds.
In June, the Enforcement Directorate arrested Balaji for allegedly conspiring with transport corporation officials to appoint candidates recommended by his aides.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court was hearing a special leave petition filed against the October 19 order by the Madras High Court that rejected his bail plea on health grounds.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Balaji, withdrew the bail application after the bench comprising Justices Bela M Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma showed unwillingness to allow it, Live Law reported.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader had undergone a bypass surgery during his judicial custody in June.
Rohatgi contended that Balaji was suffering from a chronic lacunar infarction.
However, the court responded with scepticism. “I checked on Google. It says that it can be cured by medication,” Live Law quoted Trivedi as saying. “There’s nothing as such that’s serious, otherwise, we would have seriously considered it.”
Rohatgi argued that the law does not mention hospitalisation as a prerequisite for allowing bail on medical grounds. “The section does not say sickness of such a character which must be treated here or there,” Rohatgi said. “The man is sick, he has had a bypass...”
However, the court dismissed Rohatgi’s interpretation of the bail law. “Today, bypass [surgery] is like getting an appendix removed,” Trivedi said.
The bench told Balaji that it was not satisfied with his arguments for seeking bail on medical grounds and asked him to apply for regular bail.
On Rohatgi’s request, the court, however, declared that any observation made in the Madras High Court order should not come in the way of filing the merits of the plea for regular bail.
The High Court had observed that Balaji was a “flight risk”, a person thought likely to leave the country to evade trial.
The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that crores of rupees were taken as bribes from candidates in exchange for jobs when Balaji was the transport minister in the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government.
After the party split in 2017, Balaji joined the rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which is currently in power in Tamil Nadu.
Balaji has been a minister without a portfolio since his arrest in June.