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Rediff.com  » News » ED files 3,000-page chargesheet against Senthil Balaji

ED files 3,000-page chargesheet against Senthil Balaji

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
August 12, 2023 21:08 IST
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The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday filed a nearly 3,000-page charge sheet against Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji as part of a continuing money laundering investigation against him and his aides, official sources said.

IMAGE: Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin meets state minister V Senthil Balaji who is admitted to Omandurar government hospital in Chennai, on June 14, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Principal Sessions Judge S Alli, before whom the 47-year-old Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam politician was produced, remanded him in judicial custody till August 25.

The minister, who was arrested by the ED on June 14, will continue to be lodged at the Puzhal central jail in Chennai.

 

The central agency filed the prosecution complaint of about 3,000 pages that included more than 2,000 pages of annexures and 168-170 pages of operational documents, arraigning Balaji as an accused, the sources said.

The ED is understood to have brought on record various documents seized, purported cash receipts recovered and the statement of Balaji that was recorded by it over the last few days in the charge sheet.

The court is yet to take cognisance of the complaint (charge sheet) filed under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.

Judge Alli had on August 7 permitted the ED to take custody of Senthil Balaji for five days for the purpose of interrogation in connection with the case. Since the custody came to an end on Saturday, the ED produced him before the judge.

The judge asked Balaji how he was treated by the ED while in its custody and if there was any complaint against the agency.

He replied he was treated well by the ED and had no complaint, the sources said.

The agency is expected to file a supplementary charge sheet later as a number of other people including members of Balaji's family have not deposed before it till now.

It had recently said in a statement that Balaji's brother RV Ashok Balaji, his (Ashok's) wife Nirmala and mother-in-law P Lakshmi were sent multiple summons to join the probe and record their statements but they are 'yet to appear in person, demonstrating a lack of cooperation with the ongoing investigation'.

A 2.49-acre land located in Karur, valued at more than Rs 30 crore, belonging to Nirmala was frozen by the ED a few days back in this case.

Balaji continues to be a minister without portfolio in Chief Minister M K Stalin-led Tamil Nadu government after he was arrested by the ED on June 14 in the money laundering case linked to an alleged cash-for-jobs scam when he was the transport minister during the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime.

He was in judicial custody from that day onwards till August 7.

Following an order of the Supreme Court, the ED had on August 7 filed a petition, seeking custody of Senthil Balaji for five days for the purpose of interrogation in connection with the case and the court granted permission.

Originally, alleging that her husband was in illegal custody of the ED, his wife Megala filed a habeas corpus petition (HCP) seeking a direction to the agency to produce her husband before the court and set him at liberty.

On July 4, 2023, a division bench delivered a split verdict, with one of the judges--Justice Nisha Bani - allowing her plea while Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy held that the ED has the power to take custody of the accused.

Therefore, the matter was referred to a third judge. Justice C V Karthikeyan, who was named as a third judge, had on July 14 upheld the arrest of Senthil Balaji and his subsequent remand in judicial custody.

However, he referred the matter to the same division bench to decide the date from which the ED can take custody of the accused. Pointing out that the matter was pending before the Supreme Court, the same division bench had on July 25 closed the HCP.

The Supreme Court had dismissed on Monday the petitions filed by Balaji and his wife challenging the Madras HC order upholding his arrest, saying a remand order passed by a judicial officer cannot be contested under the guise of a habeas corpus plea.

The agency had earlier claimed that Balaji 'misused' his office for illegal gratification and 'engineered' a job racket scam in the state transport undertakings during 2014-15 with purported kickbacks paid by candidates through his associates who include his brother R V Ashok Kumar and his personal assistants B Shanmugam and M Karthikeyan.

'This led to jobs being awarded at the expense of deserving candidates,' the ED had alleged.

The ED filed a case of money laundering in September 2021 to probe these allegations and its complaint is based on three Tamil Nadu Police FIRs filed in 2018 and later by some of those who failed to get the promised jobs.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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