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No interim relief for Senthil Balaji in money laundering case; SC fixes next hearing for July 10

The Supreme Court had earlier issued notice to the ED and asked it to file a detailed reply on the petition filed by Balaji against a Madras HC order refusing him bail in the case.

Screenshot 2024 05 17 090534TAMIL NADU: There was no relief for MLA and former Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji, who had challenged the rejection of his bail by the Madras High Court in a cash-for-jobs money laundering case, as the Supreme Court on Thursday fixed the next hearing for July 10.

The apex court is expected to go for its summer vacation from May 20 to July 7.

The Madras HC had ordered that the trial should be conducted on a day-to-day basis in accordance with the guidelines given by the top court.

The Supreme Court had earlier in the first week of April issued notice to the ED and asked it to file a detailed reply on the petition filed by Balaji against a Madras HC order refusing him bail in the case.

The Madras HC had on February 28, while dismissing Balaji’s bail petition, said that if he is released on bail in a case of this nature, it will send a wrong signal and that it will be against the larger public interest. Balaji had then moved the Supreme Court for bail, but so far he was denied any relief in the case.

Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram, appearing for Balaji, on Wednesday pleaded to the Supreme Court for interim bail on the ground that he was in custody of the probe agency for more than 335 days.

The two-judge bench of the top court, led by Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, had on Wednesday observed that a priority hearing could not be given to the former minister merely on the ground that he has been in jail for more than 335 days as there have been instances where accused persons have been incarcerated for years under the PMLA provision and yet are not able to seek immediate relief.

In one of the hearings, the ED which is the probe agency in the case investigating Balaji’s alleged role in a money laundering case arising out of a job racket scam case, opposed his bail plea and said that he played a central and pivotal role in the case.

“The accused (Senthil Balaji) played a central and pivotal role in the job racket scam during the period 2014-2015. He should not be granted bail by the top court,” the ED lawyer had told the apex court’s two-judge bench.

Balaji was arrested on June 14 last year by the ED in connection with a money laundering case related to cash-for-jobs scam when he was the transport minister during the previous AIADMK regime.

The ED also filed a 1000-page chargesheet against Balaji last year. On the other hand, Balaji vehemently claimed innocence in the case.

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