The Union government on Friday, May 13, assured the Supreme Court about the safety of Sukesh Chandrashekhar, who is lodged in Tihar jail on charges of money laundering and duping several persons, after his counsel claimed a threat to his life in the prison. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), on April 4, arrested the jailed 'conman' in another money laundering case linked to the 2017 Election Commission bribery instance allegedly involving former AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran and others.
The 32-year-old is already in jail after the federal probe agency arrested him last year in a case of alleged cheating and extorting money from some prominent people, including individuals like former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh's wife Aditi Singh. A bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia took note of the submissions of Chandrashekhar's counsel that he was apprehending a threat to life inside prison.
The bench, which asked the Union and the Delhi governments to file their responses in two weeks, was assured by additional solicitor general SV Raju that the security aspect of the accused would be taken care of. SV Raju, the Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the respondents (Union government and the GNCTD), prayed for two weeks' time for putting an affidavit in response, considering the grievances set out in the petition and the relief prayed for.
We direct the listing of the petition before the vacation bench of this court in the week commencing from June 6. We may record that Mr Raju, ASG, assured us that the safety of the petitioner presently lodged in Tihar jail shall be taken care of, the bench said in the order.
At the outset, the law officer said the petitioner had been involved in a large number of cases. The accused used the name of the retired judge of this court to get some favour. He forged passes of the MPs and forged car registration numbers and there are a large number of cases against him and the bail was not granted by this court, the ASG said. We understand. But, the concern is the safety of the petitioner, the bench said.
To this, the government counsel said that he was willing to give a statement to this effect. A number of women Bollywood actors and models have been questioned in this 2021 case by the ED for their alleged links to Chandrashekhar. The ED, in April this year, had placed Chandrashekhar under arrest in the 2017 case and he was put in jail a few days back, while a local court later remanded him to the agency's custody, officials said.
Chandrashekar was arrested from a five-star hotel by the Delhi Police for allegedly taking money from Dhinakaran to bribe Election Commission (EC) officials to get the AIADMK 'two leaves' symbol for the VK Sasikala faction in a bye-election to the R K Nagar assembly seat in Tamil Nadu. Dhinakaran, chargesheeted by police, was also arrested by the Delhi Police after four days of questioning for allegedly attempting to bribe EC officials for the symbol.
The bye-election was necessitated by the death of the then Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who represented the assembly segment. The EC had frozen the AIADMK's symbol after the two factions -- one led by Dhinakaran's aunt Sasikala and the other by former chief minister O Panneerselvam -- staked a claim to it. Dhinakaran's close aide Mallikarjuna was also arrested for allegedly facilitating a Rs 50 crore deal between him and Chandrashekar.
Dhinakaran was the treasurer of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and was expelled from the party in August 2017 along with Jayalalithaa's confidante Sasikala. He later launched his political party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).