The operation of summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) requiring Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister V Senthilbalaji and others to appear before it in connection with a money laundering case was stayed by the Madras High Court on Friday.
A vacation bench of Justices R Mahadevan and S Ananthi, which granted the injunction while passing interim orders on a plea from Balaji's brother Shanmugam, directed the ED to file its counter and posted the matter for further hearing after four weeks.
Senthilbalaji was the Transport Minister in the earlier AIADMK government, led by the late J Jayalalithaa. There were allegations against him that he had received huge amounts as bribe from various persons for appointing them as drivers and conductors in the Transport Corporations. In connection with these allegations, three FIRs were registered against him which culminated in chargesheets filed against him and those chargesheets were now pending before the Assistant Sessions Court (Special Court for trial of criminal cases relating to MPs and MLAs).
Since the chargesheets disclosed the commission of a scheduled offence under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act and Sec. 420 of the IPC, the ED registered a case against Senthilbalaji and others in July 2021 and took up investigation. It filed individual applications before the Special Court, seeking certified copies of certain documents.
And the Special Court, by three separate orders passed in November, 2021 directed the issuance of certified copies of some documents such as final report, complaint and FIR and 161 CrPC statements. It, however, refused to grant the certified copies of unmarked documents. Aggrieved, the ED filed three criminal original petitions in the High Court. A division bench of Justices PN Prakash and A A Nakkiran on March 30 directed the Special Court to furnish the documents required by the ED to go further with probing the corruption charges against the minister.
Aggrieved, the ED took up the matter to the Supreme Court, which stayed the March 30 orders of the High Court. Later, the ED issued the summons requiring Senthilbalaji to appear before it on May 13 and the others on different dates.
Challenging this, one of the three accused, Shanmugam preferred the present petition, on which the vacation bench today passed the order staying the operation of the ED summons.
-With PTI Input