City court extends remand of Senthil Balaji, minister files bail plea in HC

A city court here on Monday extended the remand of Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji, arrested by the ED in a money laundering case, till January 29.

Principal Sessions Judge S Alli, before whom the DMK leader was produced by the prosecution through video-conferencing from the Central Prison here, extended his judicial custody.

Meanwhile, Balaji filed a petition before the Madras High Court, seeking bail. The lower court had dismissed his bail plea thrice and the HC once.

Originally, the PSJ had on January 11 posted for Monday the case for framing charges against Balaji.

When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, senior counsel S Prabakaran, appearing for Senthil Balaji informed the court that the minister has filed a petition raising certain legal issues. Therefore till the disposal of predicate offences, this court cannot frame charges against Balaji.

The minister has filed this petition to defer the trial in the case, he added.

After Special public prosecutor N Ramesh sought time to file a counter affidavit, the judge posted to January 29, further hearing of the case.

In his petition, Balaji submitted that the Special Court for trial of criminal offences against MP/MLAs had not even taken cognizance of the alleged predicate/scheduled offence till date.

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While this being so, the simultaneous proceedings under PMLA in the present case shall be deferred until the cognizance and framing of charges in the predicate offence, as the Enforcement Directorate has not identified the proceeds of crime and their major evidence were corroborated on the evidences and statements from the predicate offence, he added.

He submitted the origination of the present proceedings under Prevention of Money Laundering Act has commenced from the scheduled offence, as it was the basis of the genesis to the present alleged offence under the Act. As a principle this court can await the cognizance, post cognizance and other summary of trial in the scheduled offence.

The scheduled offence forms a substantial proof of PMLA and therefore, the proceedings under it shall be deferred, he added.

Balaji was arrested in June 2023 by the ED in connection with a money laundering case linked to cash-for-jobs scam when he was the Transport Minister during an earlier AIADMK regime.

Soon after his arrest, he underwent a bypass surgery at a private hospital. Later, the ED took him into custody for interrogation and following that he was remanded in judicial custody. His remand was periodically extended by the court.

The ED had on August 12 filed a charge-sheet, running to 3,000 pages against Balaji.

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