On June 30, Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai hit out at Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, stating that MK Stalin, as an opposition leader, wanted the Governor to dismiss a leader from AIADMK and now he is calling the Governor’s order dismissing DMK Minister V Senthil Balaji a constitutional crisis.
Annamalai’s remarks come after MK Stalin hit out at Governor RN Ravi over the dismissal of V Senthil Balaji, an accused in the Tamil Nadu Cash-for-Jobs Scam. MK Stalin claims that the Governor does not have the right to dismiss Balaji and that his government would proceed legally in the matter. “Governor doesn’t have the right (to dismiss a sitting minister) and we will face this legally,” he said.
On June 29, Governor RN Ravi passed an order, announcing the dismissal of Minister V Senthil Balaji from the Council of Ministers but later kept the dismissal order in abeyance and said that he would take the advice of the Attorney General on this matter.
Talking to the reporters, Annamalai said, “We, the BJP Tamil Nadu reserve our comment with respect to the powers of the Governor because he has chosen to go to the Attorney General.” Annamalai also highlighted the previous tweets of CM Stalin when he was the opposition leader, in which Stalin demanded the Governor dismiss a leader from AIADMK.
Hitting out at Stalin, after reading the tweet, Annamalai said, “We have all seen that Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi issued the dismissal order of Minister V Senthil Balaji and later kept it in abeyance. MK Stalin as an opposition leader wanted the Governor to dismiss a leader from AIADMK and now he calls this (dismissal order of Minister V Senthil Balaji) a constitutional crisis.”
Senthil Balaji in Judicial Custody
Meanwhile, on June 28, the Principal Sessions Court, Chennai, extended the judicial custody of DMK Minister V Senthil Balaji till July 12. Balaji was produced before the court through video conferencing.
The case concerns the ‘Tamil Nadu Cash-for-Jobs Scam,’ wherein it was alleged that the DMK Minister and certain government officials accepted bribes in exchange for appointments to the state transport corporation between 2011 and 2015.
On June 14, the court remanded the accused Minister into judicial custody for two weeks, which ended on June 28. On June 16, the court refused bail to Balaji and noted that the accused was not cooperating with the investigation, as he refused to receive and sign the grounds of arrest.
On May 16, the Supreme Court of India set aside the Madras High Court’s order directing a fresh investigation into the Tamil Nadu Cash-for-Jobs Scam, where it was alleged that V Senthil Balaji and certain government officials accepted bribes in exchange for appointments to state transport corporation between 2011 and 2015.
The Supreme Court said that the Investigating Officer probing the case could continue their investigation and that a request for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) could be considered at a later stage. The court said, “The directions issued for the de-novo investigation are set aside. The investigating officers are to proceed with further investigation in all cases, by including the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
The Madras High Court had directed a fresh investigation, stating that the ED’s investigation failed to secure crucial forensic evidence. Furthermore, the Madras High Court said that the ED’s investigation suffered due to multiple petitions and applications filed against it in several courts by Senthil Balaji and other connected parties.
The Tamil Nadu Government conducted recruitment for various posts in state transport corporations between 2011 and 2015. It was alleged that then-Transport Minister Senthil Balaji took bribes for the appointments.
The ED registered four cases concerning the alleged scam, wherein two cases pertained to irregularities in the appointment of bus conductors and the other two concerned irregularities in the appointment of drivers and junior engineers. Senthil Balaji moved the Madras High Court seeking discharge from the cases and contended that he was a victim of ‘political malice’ as he defected from AIADMK to the DMK, however, the court rejected the contention.
The Tamil Nadu Government conducted recruitment for various posts in all transport corporations falling under the state government’s purview around 2011 and 2015. The ED registered four cases in connection to the scam and Senthil Balaji was accused in all of them.