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SC Cites Google Search to Reject DMK Minister’s Medical Bail Plea

The Supreme Court said that Google showed the medical condition cited by V Senthil Balaji wasn’t serious enough to merit his release on medical bail.
V Senthil Balaji

V Senthil Balaji. Image Courtesy: PTI

Tamil Nadu minister and DMK leader V Senthil Balaji was denied medical bail by the Supreme Court (SC) in the cash-for-jobs money laundering case on the ‘basis’ of a Google search.

Balaji was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on June 14 for alleged irregularities in the appointment of bus conductors, drivers and junior engineers to the state transport department during his tenure as the transport minister in the AIADMK government from 2011 to 2015.

Hearing a special leave petition against an October 19 order of the Madras High Court (HC) that had dismissed Balaji’s application for bail on medical grounds, a Bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma said that Google showed the medical condition cited by Balaji wasn’t serious enough to merit his release on medical bail, Bar and Bench reported.

When senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Balaji, argued, “This person had a bypass,” the SC said, “(It) does not seem to be very serious.”

Rohatgi further argued that Balaji’s condition “can lead to a brain stroke” and requested bail. Justice Trivedi pointed out, “I had checked on the Google. It says it can be cured ....”

When Rohatgi said, “I have placed Google in front of your lordships. Chronic stroke ...,” the court said that it isn’t inclined to grant bail and the investigation is also ongoing.

Rohatgi persisted saying, “The man is sick. He has had bypass.” The apex court said, “Nowadays, bypass is like appendicitis.”

When Rohatgi pointed out that the deciding factor would be whether Balaji is sick, solicitor general Tushar Mehta contended that many other prisoners could apply for bail if sickness is the only factor deciding factor in a medical bail.

“Seventy per cent (of arrested accused persons) would be sick then,” Mehta said.

The court finally observed: “You (Balaji) file for regular bail on merits. We are not satisfied on medical bail.”

Eventually, Rohatgi decided to withdraw the medical bail plea and approach the trial court for regular bail.

Balaji had been admitted to a government hospital by the ED after he complained of chest pain and uneasiness. Subsequently, he was shifted to a private hospital for the bypass surgery.

After Balaji was sent to prison following the surgery, he moved a plea for bail on medical grounds before the HC, which dismissed it in October. Subsequently, he appeal before the top court.

Rohatgi also objected to certain remarks made by the HC regarding Balaji being a “flight risk” since his brother had been absconding.

For my brother, I cannot be made to pay for his sins. I will withdraw, but these observations should not come in my way,” Rohatgi argued.

Recording the same in its order, the SC ordered: “Plea is dismissed as withdrawn. Any observations in impugned order shall not come in the way of the regular bail application, to be considered in accordance. All contentions left open.”

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