Cash-for-jobs scam: Chennai court extends TN Minister Senthil Balaji’s remand to 15 February

Additionally, Balaji's second bail application before the Madras High Court has been posted for hearing on 14 February.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 08, 2024 | 11:48 AMUpdatedFeb 08, 2024 | 11:48 AM

Senthil Balaji has been denied bail thrice by the Principal Sessions Court. (Supplied)

A sessions court in Chennai, on Wednesday, 7 February, extended Minister V Senthil Balaji’s remand once again. He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on 14 June last year in a money laundering case.

Principal Sessions Judge S Alli, before whom Senthil Balaji was produced by the prosecution via video-conferencing from the Puzhal Central Prison, extended his judicial custody till 15 February.

Originally, the judge had, on 11 January, posted the case for framing of charges against Senthil Balaji. However, when the case came up for hearing on that day, senior counsel S Prabakaran, appearing for Balaji, informed the court that Balaji had filed a petition to defer the trial.

After special public prosecutor N Ramesh sought time to file a counter affidavit, the judge adjourned the matter to 29 January. After the ED filed its counter affidavit, the matter was again adjourned and his remand was extended till 7 February.

Meanwhile, the judge reserved orders for 15 February on the petition filed by Balaji to defer the trial in the case, after hearing elaborate arguments from both sides.

Additionally, his second bail application before the Madras High Court has been posted for hearing on 14 February.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu court extends remand of TN Minister Senthil Balaji

Background of the case

Balaji was arrested on 14 June 2023 by the ED in connection with a money laundering case linked to a cash-for-jobs scam when he was the Transport Minister during an earlier AIADMK regime.

The ED arrested Balaji in connection with a money laundering case rooted in the alleged scam. Balaji crossed over to the ruling DMK in 2018.
Soon after his arrest, he underwent a bypass surgery at a private hospital. Later, the ED took him into custody for interrogation and following that he was remanded in judicial custody. His remand was periodically extended by the court.

The ED had, in August 2023, filed a charge sheet, running to 3,000 pages against Balaji. It stated that the entire recruitment process in the Tamil Nadu Transport Department during the tenure of Senthil Balaji as its minister was turned into a “corrupt chiefdom” and the cash-for-jobs scam was executed under his authority.

Balaji played a “pivotal and central” role, “exploiting” his official capacity as the Transport Minister for personal gains through corrupt and illegal means, the charge sheet claimed.
The Madras High Court had, on 19 October, dismissed the bail petition filed by Balaji. His earlier bail applications were dismissed twice by the Principal Sessions Judge. The court had held that Balaji was likely to influence the witnesses if enlarged on bail.

The Supreme Court, on 28 November, permitted imprisoned Balaji to withdraw his plea for medical bail and approach the trial court for regular bail, observing that the ailment cited by Senthil Balaji is not serious and is, in fact, curable.

On 12 January 2024, Principal Sessions Judge S Alli dismissed the bail petition of the DMK leader for the third time on the ground that there was no change of circumstances in the case.

Also Read: Senthil Balaji has sought to defer trial to ‘stall’ proceedings

(With PTI inputs)