Zero evidence against me, says VSB; HC reserves final orders in former minister's bail plea

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) ARL Sundaresan appeared for ED and submitted that the evidence presented against the accused was received from the trial court.

Update: 2024-02-21 14:57 GMT

Madras High Court; V Senthilbalaji

CHENNAI: The evidence that the Directorate of Enforcement presented against him had no evidentiary value, argued jailed ex-minister V Senthilbalaji, while the central agency countered that the materials they submitted were those the State police had seized and submitted to the trial court.

Hearing these arguments, which went on for more than three hours, Justice N Aanand Venkatesh reserved final orders, without mentioning any date, on the DMK leader's plea seeking bail in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case.

Senior counsel Aryama Sundaram appeared for the DMK leader and submitted that the documents relied on by the ED have no relation with the proceeds of crime against his client. The probative value of the evidence submitted against Senthilbalaji by the ED is completely weak, "I would say zero evidence", said the senior counsel.

At this juncture, under section 45 of PMLA, I can cast reasonable doubt on my guilt. There is no evidence to prove that the co-accused Shanmugam being an unauthorized person used by Senthilbalaji for the collection of money in the job racket, as claimed by the ED, contended the senior counsel.

Without having any material evidence against my client, the ED is relying on the statement of the co-accused under section 50 of PMLA, the senior counsel submitted.

He also cited the Supreme Court's judgment in the Kashmira Singh vs State of Madhya Pradesh, 1952, and submitted that the collected material evidence should have to be in line with the statement against the accused, said the senior counsel.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) ARL Sundaresan appeared for ED and submitted that the evidence presented against the accused was received from the trial court.

The evidence is certified by the trial court, said the ASG and there is no question of raising tampering of evidence, said the ASG.

It was also argued that the files culled from the pendrive have the information regarding the job racket including how many posts were marked, how much money was collected, and where the money is kept, said the ASG. The total value of money involved in the proceeds of crime is Rs.67.74 crores, said the ASG and submitted that under section 3 of PMLA, any economic offense above Rs.1 crore should be prosecuted.

Senthilbalaji was arrested under PMLA, by the ED on June 14 at his residence in Chennai. The investigating agency registered the PMLA case against Senthilbalaji over an alleged cash-for-jobs scam during his tenure as Transport Minister in the then AIADMK regime.

On the same day, the principal sessions judge subjugated Senthilbalaji under judicial custody.

Subsequently, he underwent major surgery for the complaint of coronary artery blockage and later he was shifted to Puzhal prison. Later Senthilbalaji was produced before the sessions court in Chennai on August 12 and the ED submitted a charge sheet of about 200 pages and 3000 pages of documents related to the investigation in a sealed cover.

It may be noted that earlier the MHC denied to grant bail to Senthilbalaji under medical grounds and also cited the abscondence of his brother Ashok Kumar, who is also the co-accused in the PMLA case.


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