Why don’t you join BJP, ED asked arrested TN minister Senthil Balaji, says Kapil Sibal

CHENNAI: “Why don’t you join the BJP?” This is what the Enforcement Directorate (ED) asked the arrested Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji, when the latter was under the central agency’s custody for five days in connection with a cash-for-jobs scam.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal told this to Chennai district principal sessions judge S Alli on Friday, when Senthil Balaji’s plea for release on bail came up for hearing. The judge said she would pronounce the orders on September 20.
Earlier, during arguments, Kapil Sibal contended that nobody except the minister had been arraigned as an accused in the case. “They were not even shown as witnesses. Only one person has given a statement, but whether his statement is true or false can be tested only in trial. This case was out of political malice,” he argued.
As to the medical condition of the minister, the senior advocate said Senthil Balaji had undergone a bypass surgery and as per doctors’ opinion he could not sit or stand for more than 30 minutes. Therefore, considering his sickness, he must be granted bail, he added.
Opposing the plea, additional solicitor-general A R L Sunderesan said there was an attempt to compensate the victims by the accused. “The proceeds of crime were at least Rs 1.34 crore which was deposited in the bank in instalments. There was a plethora of evidence to show the cash-for-jobs scam,” he said. If released on bail, the accused will tamper with the witness as he is a minister, he said, adding that doctors’ opinion that he could not sit or stand for long could not be a ground to be enlarged on bail.”
Recording the submissions, judge Alli extended the remand of the minister till September 29 and posted matter for orders on September 20. Senthil Balaji was arrested by the ED on June 14 on charges of money-laundering. The minister is currently lodged in the prison hospital at Puzhal Central Prison.
Chargesheet in the case was filed by the ED on August 12.

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