Tamil Nadu Governor Dismisses Jailed Senthil Balaji From State Cabinet

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi dismissed jailed V Senthil Balaji from the Council of Ministers with immediate effect, citing “serious criminal proceedings in a number of cases of corruption”.

According to initial reports, the Tamil Nadu governor dismissed Balaji without consulting Chief Minister MK Stalin.

“Minister V Senthil Balaji is facing serious criminal proceedings in a number of cases of corruption including taking cash for jobs and money laundering…Under these circumstances, Governor has dismissed him from the Council of Ministers with immediate effect,” Tamil Nadu Raj Bhavan said in a press release.

“There are reasonable apprehensions that continuation of Senthil Balaji in the council of ministers will adversely impact the due process of law including fair investigation that may eventually lead to breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state,” the press release further noted.

The dismissal comes days after the Madras High Court asked petitioners opposing the State government’s decision to let V Senthil Balaji continue as a minister despite his arrest, if there existed any legal provision that enabled the Governor to dismiss a state minister.

The High Court said that the Governor had appointed the minister on the advice of the Chief Minister as required under Article 164(1) of the Constitution. While the Governor was free to make recommendations, does any specific legal provision exist under Article 164 that enabled the Governor “to dismiss a minister?” the Court asked, according to a report by Bar and Bench.

Meanwhile, a court on Wednesday extended the judicial custody of Senthil Balaji till July 12. The minister appeared before Principal Sessions court judge S Alli through video conference from Kauvery hospital.

Minister Senthil Balaji was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on June 14, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). In a dramatic series of events, he was admitted to Omandurar government hospital after he complained of uneasiness and chest pain during investigation. He also broke down in front of the cameras.

The Principal Sessions Court judge, who visited Senthil Balaji in the hospital, ordered him to be remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.

Subsequently, Senthil Balaji was shifted to Kauvery Hospital, where he underwent bypass surgery.