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Senthilbalaji case: MHC adjourns 'habeas corpus' hearing to June 27

The HCP was filed in the Madras High Court (MHC) by Senthilbalaji's wife against his arrest by the ED.

Senthilbalaji case: MHC adjourns habeas corpus hearing to June 27

Madras High Court

CHENNAI: PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) does not give rights of station house officer (SHO) to Enforcement Directorate (ED) then how can they seek custodial interrogation, it is the gravest illegality committed by the ED ever in the history of India, said senior counsel NR Elango. Recording the arguments, the Madras High Court adjourned the hearing to Tuesday in the Habeas Corpus Petition (HCP) filed by minister Senthilbalaji's wife Megala.

The HCP was filed in the Madras High Court (MHC) by Senthilbalaji's wife against his arrest by the ED. The petition was heard by a division bench comprising Justice J Nisha Banu and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy, on Thursday.

Senior Counsel NR Elango appeared on behalf of Senthilbalaji and solicitor general Tushar Mehta appeared for the ED side. While arguing the senior counsel NR Elango quoted some Supreme Court (SC) judgments including the judgment in actor Sanjay Dutt's case in 1994, to support his arguments.

He argued that the SC has only held that HCP cannot be issued only if the arrest or remand is legal. He further said that it was held HCP is maintainable if an order of remand is illegal. Subsequently, he said that the question of whether the HCP is entertainable or not is in the realm of

He argued that investigating agencies are duty bound to section 41A of CRPC, further, the violation of the SC order to issue summons under some section 41A of CRPC amounts to a violation of the fundamental rights of Senthibalaiji while he was arrested and said the present HCP is maintainable.

He further argued that the remand order given by the principal sessions judge after visiting Senthilbalaji is mechanical. The senior counsel said that the ED sought police interrogation before the principal judge, which is illegal after the MHC permitted to transfer of Senthilbalaji to a private hospital, the ED doesn't have the power of SHO in PMLA cases, so how can they seek police custody, he wondered.

Further, he advanced the argument by citing that the ED claimed, they search Senthilbalji's house and he was under custody from 9:30 am on June 13 to 1:58 am on June 14 and ED claims that the search was completed at 11 pm on June 13, however, there is no record of what happened from 11 pm till his arrest at 01:58 am on June 14. The solicitor general intervened and said this is not a trial to argue such things. NR Elango replied that there is a violation of Article 21 (personal liberty) of the Constitution.

The senior counsel argued that there is malice behind the ED-registered PMLA case against Senthilbalaji for an offence of cash for jobs in 2014 - 15.

The PMLA case was registered against Senthilbalaji after he became a minister in the DMK regime, said the senior counsel. The solicitor general counter with the malice can be ground in a quash petition but not in an HCP and there are no pleadings to that effect and wonders how would be able to deal with them.

Further, the senior counsel said the custodial interrogation cannot be granted beyond 15 days of arrest whatever may be the reason, and concluded his arguments.

The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said if the HCP is held maintainable, it can still be dismissed on merits. Even if it is accepted on merits, the issue of exclusion should still survive.

After the submissions, the bench adjourned the hearing to Tuesday for further arguments.

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