A sessions court here on Wednesday dismissed the bail petition of DMK Minister V Senthil Balaji, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate earlier in connection with a money laundering case in June.
Dismissing the petition, Principal Sessions Judge S Alli said an earlier bail application filed by the petitioner on June 14, 2023 was dismissed by this court two days later. The court does not find any change of circumstance, except the facts of completion of investigation and filing of complaint, which were not the major grounds for granting bail, the judge added.
The judge said the petitioner was a MLA and a sitting Minister of the Government of Tamil Nadu. He previously held key portfolios like Transport, Electricity and Excise etc.
“Considering the gravity of offence, overwhelming materials against the petitioner, the status of the petitioner and the fact that the petitioner has not satisfied the twin conditions of Section 45 of the PMLA, this court does not find reasonable grounds for believing that the petitioner was not guilty of the offence or that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail and taking overall view of the matter, the court is not inclined to grant bail to the petitioner on merits and also on medical grounds”, the judge added.
Referring to the twin conditions imposed in section 45 of PMLA, the judge said admittedly, the Special Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to
oppose the bail application and he has resisted the bail by filing a detailed counter. The senior counsels for the petitioner submitted whether Balaji was guilty or not would be established only through trial and therefore, the court considering the other factors, may order for release of the accused on bail.
However, as per section 45 of the Act, while considering the bail application itself, the court has to satisfy the twin conditions imposed as per the section and therefore, the contention of the senior counsels that the guilt of the petitioner would be established only through trial, cannot be considered at the present stage, the judge added.
The judge said on perusal of the complaint filed by the complainant, the statements of witnesses and the accused recorded under section 50 of the PMLA and also the documents collected during investigation, it reveals that serious and grave allegations have been raised against the petitioner.
The said allegations were categorical and specific and it discloses the fact that the petitioner has a definite role in the commission of offence, charged against him, the judge added.
Referring to the contentions made by the senior counsels for the petitioner relating to gadgets, the judge said the court was of the considered view that the reliability, genuinity, admissibility and also the authenticity of the electronic evidence have to be raised during trial and it can be decided by the court only after a full trial.
It was trite law that to consider a petition for grant of bail, the court was not expected to weigh the evidence meticulously, but to arrive at a finding on the basis of broad probabilities, the judge added.
Referring to a judgment relied on by the Senior counsel for the petitioner, the judge said the observation of the Delhi High court was not applicable to the facts and circumstances of this case since the petitioner was not only a MLA but also a Minister and there was every possibility to influence the witnesses and to tamper the evidence.
The judge said on perusal of the medical report filed on behalf of the petitioner, it was seen that the petitioner has been prescribed some medicines and also advised to continue rehabilitation, breathing exercise, walking for two months, low salt diet and plenty of liquids.
Further, he was advised to avoid continuous long duration sitting or standing (more than 30 minutes) and it has also been mentioned in the said report that at present, he was getting continuous medication in the Prison Hospital at Puzhal here, the judge added.