"Doesn't appear very serious", says Supreme Court while hearing Senthil Balaji's medical bail plea

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Notably, when the Minister was arrested on June 14, he complained of chest pain. Thereafter, the doctors at a government hospital in Chennai diagnosed three artery blocks and recommended an immediate Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) for him. 

Supreme Court today adjourned hearing the medical bail plea filed by Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on June 14, 2023, and has been in custody since then in a money laundering case.

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma after looking at the medical records submitted before court remarked that Balaji's condition did not appear to be very serious.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Balaji referred to an MRI report, and submitted that his client was prone to having a stroke.

Court then went on to direct Rohatgi to file all latest medical reports and posted the matter on November 28.

Last month, the Madras High Court had rejected the bail plea filed by Balaji solely on medical grounds. 

The bench of Justice G Jayachandran had reserved the judgment in the bail petition after the plea was vehemently opposed by the ED.

The relief by the Minister was sought on grounds of his ongoing health struggles, including chest discomfort, pain, numbness, and discomfort in his left leg (the surgical side).

The Minister had alleged that despite receiving medications in the Puzhal prison hospital, his recovery remains slow, necessitating further treatment.Senthilbalaji's bail petition was earlier rejected by a Chennai court on September 20, 2023. Principal Sessions Judge S. Alli had taken note of the earlier rejection of Balaji's earlier bail application by the Sessions court on June 16, citing that the conditions stipulated under Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were not met.

In August, a division bench of the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeals filed by Balaji and his wife Megala, challenging the order granting Enforcement Directorate his custody in a money laundering case.

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.

On the same day, the Minister's wife moved the high court alleging that his arrest has been done without following the due procedure and sought his transfer to a private hospital for treatment. 

On June 15, though the high court denied the Minister interim bail but allowed him to be shifted to a private hospital in Chennai for treatment.

Case title: V Senthil Balaji vs. ED