Petition before Supreme Court challenges continuance of Senthil Balaji as TN Minister

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The plea challenges the High Court's decision as being incorrect in disposing the matter with a mere advice to the Chief Minister of the State of Tamil Nadu to take a decision about the continuance of Balaji, who is in judicial custody, as a Minister without Portfolio, which serves no purpose and which does not augur well with the principles of Constitutional ethos on goodness, good governance and purity in administration

A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court's September 5, 2023 judgement, holding that there is no legislation on removal of a Minister who is in custody.

The matter arises out of arrest of V Senthil Balaji by the Enforcement Directorate on June 14, 2023 and his continuance as a Minister in Tamil Nadu government.

Social activist from Chennai, M L Ravi has filed the instant special leave petition against the Madras High Court's dismissal of his plea to quash the letter issued by the Governor on June 29, 2023 to keep in abeyance a letter issued on the same day dismissing Balaji as a minister as "The Governor cannot revisit, review or modify his own order".

Ravi has further said that the High Court is not correct in just issuing a whisper and advice to the Chief Minister who had already issued a press release that he will retain the Minister Balaji, without any portfolio. 

His plea also referred to press release issued by the Governor expressing his displeasure in continuance of the Minister Balaji on moral turpitude. "The High Court erred in not considering that the Governor is under the doctrine of functus officio where he cannot act upon on his own order," the plea adds.

"The High Court is not correct in stating that there is no legislation on removal of Minister who is in custody, where by precedent the Court is to interpret and keep the vacuum filled till the law is enacted," Ravi has submitted.

The petitioner has also raised a question of laws whether High Court has erred in noticing that the Governor can exercise his discretionary power if he chooses to withdraw his pleasure in respect of a Minister, where he must exercise his discretion with the knowledge of the Chief Minister.

In August, a division bench of the Supreme Court had dismissed the appeals filed by Tamil Nadu Minister and DMK leader and his wife Megala, challenging the order granting Enforcement Directorate his custody in a money laundering case.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had reserved its verdict in the plea filed by Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji challenging Madras High Court's decision holding that the Enforcement Directorate had the right to get his custody. 

Case against Balaji:

Allegedly, when Senthil Balaji, the present Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister, was serving as Transport Minister in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet during 2011-15, a job racket took place where bribe was sought for jobs in the Metropolitan Transport Corporation. It is alleged that he had obtained money from third parties promising jobs in the Transport Department and thereafter cheated them.

The ED arrested the Minister on June 14 and he was remanded to judicial custody till June 28. Meanwhile, after the Minister complained for chest pain, he was admitted to Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital at Omandurar Estate in Chennai for a medical checkup. At the government hospital, the Minister was advised CABG-Bypass surgery at the earliest.

Cause Title: ML Ravi vs. Principal Secretary to Governor, Government of Tamil Nadu and others