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3-judge bench of Madras HC to hear TN Minister Balaji’s habeas corpus petition, says SC

New Delhi: A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (Photo: Wasim Sarvar/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, July 4 : The habeas corpus petition challenging arrest of Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji by the Enforcement Directorate will be heard “as early as possible” by a three-judge bench of the Madras High Court, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

The direction was passed by a bench of Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta of the apex court after a split verdict was pronounced by a division bench of the High Court on the habeas corpus petition moved by Balaji’s wife.

It said that Balaji’s petition should be placed before a larger bench “at the earliest”.

“We request the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court to place the matter before a larger bench at the earliest and further request to the assigned bench to decide the case as early as possible,” said the bench while hearing the ED’s appeal challenging the interim direction passed by the High Court earlier in June this year.

In the interim direction passed on June 15, the High Court had ordered to transfer the minister from a government hospital where he was under the custody of ED officials to a private hospital.

S. Megala, the wife of Balaji, had moved a petition before the high court assailing her husband’s arrest by the central probe agency in connection with a cash-for-jobs scam that allegedly occurred during his tenure as the Transport Minister in the AIADMK government from 2011 to 2016.

Doctors had preferred an urgent coronary bypass surgery to the beleaguered minister after an angioplasty detected three blocks in his coronary artillery. The minister was operated upon and is presently in the same hospital where he underwent surgery procedures.

In its split verdict delivered on July 4, Justice J. Nisha Banu of the Madras High Court termed the arrest of the minister illegal and ordered him to be set free with immediate effect, while Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy differed on the question of his “illegal” detention.

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