Madras High Court questions continuation of Senthil Balaji as Minister without portfolio

Madras High Court questions continuation of Senthil Balaji as Minister without portfolio


On Tuesday (5 September), the Madras High Court expressed its dissatisfaction over the continuation of arrested DMK leader V Senthil Balaji as Minister without portfolio in the Tamil Nadu government. The court observed that his continuance as a Minister without a portfolio in the MK Stalin-led Tamil Nadu cabinet serves no purpose, PTI reported. 

The court added that this does not augur well with the principles of good governance, purity in administration, and constitutional ethos.

However, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Vijaykumar Gangapurwala and Justice P D Audikesavalu left it to the Tamil Nadu CM to decide on the continuance of V Senthil Balaji in ministry. The bench stated that this decision falls within the prerogative of the Chief Minister. Subsequently, the court dismissed the petitions filed by two advocates and former AIADMK MP Dr J Jayavardhan.

Earlier, the petitioners, through their quo warranto petitions, questioned under what authority Balaji was holding the post of a Minister without portfolio. 

According to the petitioners, the high court, under Article 226 of the Constitution, has the power to declare a person unfit to hold a post. 

The petitioners said, “When a person becomes a disgrace to a post, the court can very well declare him unfit to the post. While the chief minister was right in removing Senthil Balaji’s portfolios after his arrest, he erred in allowing him to continue as a minister.” 

However, the Tamil Nadu government opposed the plea. It argued that a person could not be disqualified from holding the post for the sake of registration of an FIR. It added that unless a person was convicted of an offence, he or she was not disqualified from holding the post of a minister.

Senthil Balaji, who serves as a minister in the DMK government, was detained on June 14 by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a cash-for-jobs scheme. Currently, he is in judicial custody at Puzhal Central Prison Hospital. 

Meanwhile, on August 13, ED arrested his brother RV Ashok in connection with the money laundering case from Kerala’s Kochi. Reportedly, Ashok had skipped several summons sent by the central probing agency prompting his arrest.

Ashok was arrested by the same ED team, which has been probing the minister’s case. Before his arrest, ED officials filed a 3000-page chargesheet against Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji. 


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