Supreme Court Upholds Chief Minister's Authority in Arrested Minister V Senthil Balaji's Case
Supreme Court Upholds Chief Minister's Authority in Arrested Minister V Senthil Balaji's Case

Chennai: In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the removal of arrested Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji cannot proceed without the Chief Minister's consent. The court dismissed a request made by social activist ML Ravi seeking the removal of Balaji. The judgment aligned with the Madras High Court's decision, emphasizing that the Chief Minister has the authority to decide on Balaji's status, considering he serves as a "minister without a portfolio in the state cabinet serves no purpose."

Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, part of the Supreme Court bench, stated, "The high court was right to consider whether the Governor has the power to dismiss a minister and left it to the Chief Minister to decide whether the person concerned should continue as a minister." The bench expressed agreement with the Madras High Court's perspective and concluded that no interference is necessary.

Social activist ML Ravi had challenged the Madras High Court's ruling, arguing that Balaji should not continue as a minister in the Tamil Nadu government following his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case. Ravi highlighted that Balaji, funded by public money, enjoys perks and allowances, and a person in custody is unable to perform official duties, justifying the demand for his removal.

V Senthil Balaji was arrested on June 14 last year in connection with a money laundering case initiated by the Enforcement Directorate. The case stemmed from a cash-for-job matter filed by the Central Crime Branch police, Chennai, during Balaji's tenure as the transport minister in the previous AIADMK regime.

In early August, searches conducted against Balaji and others in connection with the money laundering probe allegedly led to the recovery of unaccounted-for valuables exceeding ₹16 lakh and ₹22 lakh in cash from a driver's home. The Supreme Court's decision reinforces the Chief Minister's prerogative in determining the minister's continued service in the cabinet amid legal and political complexities.

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