The Madras High Court ordered former state Transport Minister and current DMK MLA V Senthil Balaji to appear before Central Crime Branch (CCB) police in relation to a cheating case. Justice Audikesavulu, who is hearing the case, ordered Senthil Balaji to appear before the CCB despite having granted an anticipatory bail in his favour last week.
V Senthil Balaji was the Transport Minister of Tamil Nadu from 2011 to 2015 under former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. In 2017, allegations cropped up against him that he had taken Rs 95 lakh each from 16 people during his tenure, promising to get them government jobs in his department. Following the allegations, the Central Crime Branch registered an FIR against him and had also conducted searches in his house and office in January 2020. The CCB had also sealed his residence in Mandaveli, Chennai after the searches.
Last week, Senthil Balaji approached the High Court with an anticipatory bail plea, stating that he was being framed in the case due to political enmity. He started his political career in AIADMK and was the MLA from Karur in 2006 and 2011 and from Aravakurichi Assembly constituency in 2016. He stood by TTV Dhinakaran when the AIADMK split after the demise of Jayalalithaa. He was one of the 18 MLAs who were disqualified by Assembly Speaker S Dhanabal in 2017. He then switched loyalties and joined the DMK and was elected as the Aravakurichi MLA again in 2019 during the Assembly bye-polls.
In his anticipatory bail plea, Senthil Balaji also mentioned that he was ready to offer his fullest cooperation to the investigation. The same day, he was also asked to appear before the CCB and was issued summons by the police.
Recording his submission, Justice Audikesavulu had granted him anticipatory bail on the condition that he will have to appear before CCB officials and sign every day and that he has to surrender his passport. The judge also ordered Senthil Balaji to not destroy evidence or abscond. However, Senthil Balaji further pled exemption from appearing before CCB police since he has already been granted bail.
However, on Monday, the government counsel argued that the summons will apply to him since it was issued the same day as his anticipatory bail and hence he cannot avoid appearing before CCB. Accepting the government’s arguments, Justice Audikesavulu directed Senthil Balaji to obey the summons and appear before the CCB on February 14.