The Supreme Court Wednesday granted four-week bail to former AIADMK minister K T Rajenthra Bhalaji in an alleged job scam case and rapped the Tamil Nadu police for arresting him during the pendency of his bail plea, raiding his lawyer and keeping him in a jail at Trichy which is 300 kms away from the local court.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli referred to its earlier orders in cases including the suo motu matter and said that in a situation when the jails are ordered to be decongested due to worsening Covid situation, the accused former minister be released on bail.
"Taking into consideration all the ...facts, and the guidelines and directions passed by this Court ...which were reiterated recently in Suo Moto Writ Petition (C) No.1/2020, we deem it appropriate to grant interim bail to the petitioner (Mr. K.T. Rajenthrabhalaji) for a period of four weeks from today," it said.
The apex court also imposed conditions including that the accused "shall not leave the place of the jurisdictional police station where the alleged offences are registered and shall surrender his passport to the concerned magistrate immediately.
It also asked the former minister to participate in the investigation and co-operate with the investigating agency.
During the hearing, it took serious note of the fact that the accused was arrested just after the rejection of the pre-arrest bail plea by the Madras high Court and during the pendency of his bail plea before the apex court.
The bench was also irked over the fact that the house of the lawyer was raided and the accused minister was lodged in a jail not in Madurai but Trichy , which was 300 kms away from the jurisdictional court in the matter.
"The manner in which he has been arrested, the manner in which the house of his advocate has been raided, and advocate's wife was asked to disclose his whereabouts, that is objectionable...If this is the way, then we will have to order inquiry into activity of your police, how they behave with lawyers also. This is how the police will behave, the bench observed.
It took note of the fact that after the rejection of the pre-arrest bail by the high court, the accused had written to the police officer concerned to wait till the top court hears the plea.
Earlier also, the apex court had taken strong note of the arrest of the former minister during the pendency of his appeal before it.
"What is this? Is it proper for the government to go ahead when this court is considering the matter? With COVID-19, we are unable to list all matters. Heavens were not going to fall if you could have restrained yourself. Why do you attack and raid lawyers... Is it your intention that the Supreme Court should be deprived of hearing the matter," it had observed.
The apex court, which had issued notices on separate pleas filed by several people who are accused in the case, had listed the matter for hearing on today.
"Meanwhile, there shall be stay of arrest of petitioner No. 2 (N Baburai), petitioner No. 3(V S Balaram) and petitioner No. 4 (S K Muthupandian)," it ordered.
A case of cheating has been registered at Virudhanagar District Crime Branch against the former minister and others alleging that some money was collected on the pretext of securing government jobs.
The first complainant, one of the alleged victims, S Raveendran, had accused K Nallathambi of collecting Rs 30 lakhs from him for giving bribe to the former minister for securing a job with the state diary board. There were several similar complaints.