Madras HC reserves orders on petitions connected to Senthil Balaji

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday reserved orders on writ petitions related to Minister V Senthil Balaji’s continuance in the Cabinet despite his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate and the withheld move by Governor R N Ravi to dismiss him from the Council of Ministers.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice S V Gangapurwala and Justice P D Audikesavalu reserved orders on the petitions filed by advocate M L Ravi, Ramakrishnan and J Jayavardhan, a former AIADMK MP, after hearing elaborate arguments from both sides.

The bench had on July 29 directed both parties to file their written submissions, if any in the case. Accordingly, the petitioners and the State government filed their written submissions on Friday.

A PIL plea filed by the advocate sought a direction to quash the order of the Tamil Nadu Governor dismissing Senthil Balaji and his subsequent order to put the same in abeyance. The other two writ (quo warranto) petitions questioned under what authority Senthil Balaji was holding the post of a Minister.

Arrested by the ED in a money laundering case on June 14, 2023, Senthil Balaji continues to be a Minister without portfolio. He is currently lodged in Puzhal central prison and is in judicial custody.

The ED arrest was following registration of FIR and probe by police in connection with payment of alleged bribes in 2017 by job aspirants to secure employment in state-run transport corporations.

Advocate General R Shanmughasundaram made a submission on July 28 that the Governor cannot take a unilateral decision to remove Senthil Balaji from the Council of Ministers.

On June 29, Governor Ravi dismissed Minister Senthil Balaji from the Cabinet and within hours, the Raj Bhavan placed on hold the unprecedented order.

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