Chennai, June 22 (BPNS)
Madras High Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing on the habeas corpus filed by the Tamil Nadu Minister, Senthil Balaji’s wife Megala against the minister’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to June 27.
A division bench of the Madras High Court comprising of Justices Nisha Banu and Bharatha Chakravarthy heard the plea on Thursday. Senthil Balaji’s counsel NR Elango argued that the habeas corpus plea was suitable for hearing as the fundamental right has been infringed and the court has been approached.
The senior counsel questioned the authority of the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) to insist upon custodial interrogation of the minister. The counsel said that sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) of 2002 does not confer the powers of a Station House Officer or officer in charge of a police station on any of the officers of the ED and hence they cannot seek custodial interrogation of an arrested person.
He also took exception to the act of the ED in approaching Principal Sessions Judge(PSJ) in Chennai after the Division bench of the Madras High Court had on June 15 ordered the shifting of the minister from a government hospital to a private hospital for a bypass surgery. NR Elango during argument said, “ This is the greatest illegality ever committed by the ED. They should not have approached the PSJ after High Court’s order and the Principal Sessions Judge should not have permitted custodial interrogation in the hospital itself.”
He said, “ Had the minister been arrested legally, the need for a habeas corpus plea does not arise. Minister Senthil Balaji should have been informed of the reasons of his arrest, which is a fundamental right.”
Elango argued that no one should be detained without explaining the reasons for his arrest and added that this was clearly mentioned in Article 22 of the constitution.
The advocate also said that the court’s order transferring the minister, Senthil Balaji to Kauvery hospital under judicial custody cannot be considered as an interim order but an order under Section 167 of CrPC.
Solicitor General of India, Thushar Mehta appeared for the Enforcement Directorate. The court adjourned the hearing to June 27 after Thushar Mehta expressed some difficulties in appearing in the afternoon and sought an adjournment for Monday to make his submissions. Senthil Balaji’s advocate, Elango requested for an adjournment to Tuesday, June 27 and judges acceded to the request and adjourned the case to June 27.