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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

SC issues notice to ED on Senthil Balaji’s petition challenging his arrest | indian news

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice and sought a response from the Directorate of Enforcement on appeals filed by Minister V of Tamil Nadu Senthil Balaji and his wife Megala challenging the Madras High Court order upholding their arrest and granting police custody to the agency in a money laundering case and assured the DMK leader that “nothing will happen” until the matter is resolved.
Pursuant to the minister’s and agency’s request that the matter be listed as soon as possible, a bench of judges AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh set the hearing for 26 July.
Fearing that the minister may be detained by the police again for questioning by the agency on the basis of the HC order, lead lawyer Kapil Sibal and lawyer Amit Anand Tiwari, pleaded with the court to pass an interim order to protect him, but the court did not approve any order but assured them that nothing will happen until the next hearing date.
The couple approached the court after facing a setback from the Madras High Court, which refused to grant them relief. In a petition filed through lawyer Misha Rohatgi Mohta, Megala claimed that HC’s verdict was in stark contrast to previous high court rulings.
The entire controversy in the case revolves around two issues: whether erectile dysfunction is entitled to police custody of a defendant in a money laundering case and if time spent in police custody for medical treatment is excluded.
While Sibal asserted that ED officers are not police officers to seek police custody for custodial questioning, Attorney General Tushar Mehta said that there cannot be a situation where ED officers can arrest but cannot seek custody.
“He SOUTH CAROLINA has authoritatively interpreted and explained the object, scheme and scope of powers under the PMLA in its decision in Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary where it categorically holds that ED officers are not police officers. This finding builds on the broader general finding that the purpose of the Act is not criminal in nature but regulatory, and that the Act only empowers the ED to conduct an inquiry and not an ‘investigation’ as understood under the provisions of the CrPC. Once ED officers have been declared non-police, there is no question of them seeking custody under Section 167 CrPC, the provision of which is only applicable to an officer in charge of a police station or a police officer,” the petition, filed by Megala, reads.
“The issue of the period of police custody under Section 167 of CrPC is an established law which has been established by SC in the case CBI Vs. Anupam Kulkarni and consistently followed for the last 30 years and is that police custody under Section 167 can only be for the first 15 days of remand and thereafter can only be court custody,” the petition reads.
Petitioners claimed that the High Court erred in holding that ED has the right to investigate further after making an arrest under Section 19 of the PMLA and then request custody to continue the investigation.

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