CHENNAI: A Madras high court division bench that had earlier delivered a split verdict in the matter of Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji’s arrest refused on Tuesday to fix a date for custody of the minister.

One of the two judges reiterated her earlier stand that the arrest was not legal and that the minister was entitled to be released forthwith. Justice Nisha Banu also said she was not inclined to review her stand and said the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, would decide the appeals already moved by the minister.
When Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the matter had been sent back to the bench only to decide the date of custody, Justice Nisha Banu replied: “I cannot decide the date. I stand by my judgment setting him free.”

“The appeals moved against the order are pending before the Supreme Court so nothing more needs to be stated by us,” the division bench comprising Justices Nisha Banu and D Bharatha Chakravarthy said on Tuesday.
Originally, the question of the validity of the minister’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate was referred to a third judge, Justice C V Karthikeyan, as the division bench could not reach a consensus and delivered a split verdict. On July 14, Justice Karthikeyan concurred with Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy and confirmed the validity of the arrest. He, however, left the question of the detention of the minister open and left it to the division bench itself to decide the period of his custody.
Meanwhile, Senthil Balaji was discharged from Kauvery Hospital and transferred to Puzhal prison hospital.
On Tuesday, when the plea came up for hearing before the division bench, senior advocate N R Elango, representing the minister’s wife, submitted that the matter could be argued before the Supreme Court. Noting that the Supreme Court would decide the further course of action, the bench closed the petition.
On June 14, the minister was arrested by the ED in connection with a cash-for-job case registered in 2015. Since the minister complained of chest pain immediately after arrest, he was admitted to Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super-Speciality Hospital and later transferred to Kauvery Hospital, where he underwent a bypass surgery.
On July 4, while pronouncing the verdict , Justice Nisha Banu allowed the plea filed by Megala, the wife of 47-year-old Balaji, whereas Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy dismissed it.

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