The Chennai Sessions Court yesterday refused to grant interim bail to Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthil Balaji and has granted his custody for eight days to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). It held that he has not satisfied twin conditions under Section 45 of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002).

Principal Sessions Judge S. Alli said in the order, “As per Sec.45(1)(i) of PMLA, the Special Public Prosecutor has to be given an opportunity to oppose the bail application. However, as per Sec.45(1)(2) of PMLA, from the available materials placed before this court, this court is not satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he will not likely to commit any offence while on bail, if he is ordered to be released on bail. Therefore, the court has arrived at a conclusion that the petitioner / accused is not entitled for bail as he has not satisfied the twin conditions laid down Under Sec.45 of PMLA.”

Earlier, The Madras High Court had refused to grant bail to V. Senthil and allowed his plea to be shifted to a private hospital of his choice for alleged emergent bypass surgery.

Senior Advocate N.R. Ilango and Advocate Agilesh Kumar appeared on behalf of the petitioner while Additional Solicitor General ARL Sundaresan and Special Public Prosecutor N. Ramesh appeared on behalf of the respondents.

Factual Background -

The TN Minister i.e., the petitioner was arrested on June 14, 2023, for the offence punishable under Sections 3 and 4 of the PMLA and was therefore seeking bail before the court. In 2014, the detenu had allegedly obtained money from third parties, promising jobs in the Transport Department, and thereafter cheated them. A case was pending on the file of the Additional Special Court for Trial Cases of MP/MLA and on the final reports, offences alleged were Sections 406, 409, 420, 506(i) r/w 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

The aforesaid offences were committed during the year 2014 when the petitioner was the Minister for Transport, Government of Tamil Nadu. It was alleged that some of the employees of the detenu had received money for appointments in Transport Corporation. However, pursuant to his arrest, seeing his condition, the ED took him to the Omandurar Government Multispeciality Hospital, where an angiogram was performed and the petitioner thus underling the reports of the hospital, sought permission to shift him to Cauvery Hospital for an emergent bypass surgery, as he had a regular consultant physician working at the same hospital.

The Sessions Court in view of the above facts observed, “… the Prevention of Money Laundering Act has an overriding effect and the provisions of Cr.P.C. would apply only if they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act. … the court is of the opinion that the respondent / complainant is not expected to follow the procedure u/s 41-A Cr.P.C and on the other hand, they are expected to fulfill the conditions as required u/s 19 of PMLA and it has been followed. … The report dated 15.6.2023 by the said hospital would reveal that the accused has suffered with Acute Coronary Syndrome (Heart attack due to heart muscle artery blockage) and presently his health condition is stable.”

The Court, keeping in view of the observations of the Supreme Court in respect of granting of interim bail on medical grounds and the fact that the accused was admitted in a hospital from the time of his arrest and shifted to another hospital of his choice and now under treatment and also considering the nature and gravity of the offence said to have been committed by the accused, concluded that he shall not be released on interim bail on medical grounds as prayed for by him.

“… keeping in mind of the nature and gravity of the offence, nascent stage of the investigation, the court is of the considered view that the petitioner / accused cannot be released on bail and the petition deserves to be dismissed”, said the Court.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the plea.

Cause Title- V. Senthil Balaji v. Joint Director, Enforcement Directorate

Click here to read/download the Order