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SC to hear former TN minister Senthil Balaji bail plea tomorrow

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned till May 16 the hearing on the bail plea of former Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate last year in a money laundering case.

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A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan deferred the matter after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that he had to appear before a special bench which is hearing a challenge to penal provisions of the Goods and Services tax (GST).

Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram, appearing for Balaji, urged the bench to hear the matter saying that the former minister has undergone a bypass surgery and has been in custody for over 300 days.

The bench, however, said,"We are not impressed with your submission that because he is in custody for 300 days he should be given priority. There are other cases where a person has been in jail for more than half of the total punishment." The top court had on April 1 sought a response from the ED on Balaji's bail plea while issuing notice to the agency.

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Dismissing his bail petition, the Madras High Court had on February 28 said if he is let out on bail in a case of this nature, it will send out a wrong signal and will be against larger public interest.

It said the petitioner had been incarcerated for more than eight months and it would therefore be more appropriate to direct the special court to dispose of the case within a time frame.

The high court ordered that the trial shall be conducted on a day-to-day basis in accordance with the guidelines given by the top court.

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Balaji was arrested on June 14 last year in connection with a money laundering case linked to a cash-for-jobs scam when he was transport minister during an earlier AIADMK regime.

On August 12 last year, the ED filed a 3,000-page charge sheet against Balaji.

On October 19, the high court dismissed Balaji's earlier bail plea. A local court had also rejected his bail petitions thrice. PTI PKS PKS SK SK

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