The Madras High Court while refusing to grant interim bail to Tamil Nadu Minister, V Senthil Balaji has allowed his plea to be shifted to a private hospital of his choice for an alleged emergent bypass surgery.

The private hospital in question was Cauvery Hospital, Chennai, as mentioned in the Medical Bulletin of the Omandurar Government, Multi Speciality Hospital, Chennai.

Without doubting the opinion of doctors on emergent treatment in the absence of material, and while noting that the detenu is in custody by judicial order of remand, a bench of Justice Nisha Banu and Justice D.Bharatha Chakravarthy observed, “…there is no question of enlarging him on bail. He shall continue to be in judicial custody. The only question is whether he has to undergo an emergent treatment at the Omandurar Government Hospital itself or the hospital of their choice. In this regard, when the petitioner pleads that they have a regular physician at Cauvery Hospital, Chennai which is also a reputed hospital in Chennai, regarding the treatment in Cardiology when the matter is concerning a life of an individual, we are of the view that prayer on behalf of the detenu to undergo treatment at the hospital of their choice, at his own cost, can be acceded to even while he continues to be in judicial custody”.

Senior Advocate N.R.Elango appeared on behalf of the petitioner, Additional Solicitor General of India A.R.L.Sundaresan, assisted by Special Public Prosecutor N. Ramesh for Enforcement Directorate.

Senthil’s wife, complaining about the illegal detention of her husband, filed the present petition.

In the matter, three criminal cases are pending against the detenu in the Additional Special Court for the trial of cases against M.P. / M.L.A. and the offences are under Sections 406, 409, 420, and 506(1) read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

In 2014, the detenu had allegedly obtained money from third parties, promising jobs in the Transport Department, and thereafter cheated them. Based on the same, a case was registered under Section 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, and he was arrested at about 1:30 a.m. on June 14, 2023.

However, pursuant to his arrest, seeing his condition, the respondent took him to the Omandurar Government Multispeciality Hospital, where an angiogram was performed.

The petitioner thus alleged that the notice under Section 41-A of the Criminal Procedure Code was not issued and further alleged a violation of Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India, stating that the detenu was neither informed about the ground of arrest nor permitted the right to consent a legal practitioner.

However, the same was vehemently opposed on the ground that the compliance of Section 40, 41-A...etc.. of the Criminal Procedure Code, will not arise in this case of arrest under PMLA as the same is governed by only Section 19 of the said Act. Further, that Section 19 of the Act contains the safeguards, as contained under Article 22 of the Constitution of India also.

The petitioner thus underling the reports of the hospital, sought permission to shift him to Cauvery Hospital for an emergent bypass surgery, as he has a regular consultant physician working at the same Hospital.

It was further submitted that in such kinds of life-saving surgeries, the choice of the accused to undergo treatment in a particular private hospital has been recognised by the Supreme Court and other Courts in various orders.

However, the same was opposed by the respondents contending that the Government Hospitals are adequately equipped to perform the surgery and there is no question of shifting the detenu to a private hospital.

Considering the averments made, and the submissions of the ED, the bench also noted, “…It is open to the respondents/ Enforcement Directorate, themselves to determine the Specialist panel, who can also examine the detenu and his condition as well as the treatment, which he undergoes at the Cauvery Hospital”.

The bench has further listed the matter for final disposal on June 22, 2023.

Cause Title: Senthil Balaji v. ED

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