TN governor dismisses minister Senthil Balaji jailed in cash-for-jobs scam case

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CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi on Thursday dismissed DMK leader and jailed minister V Senthil Balaji from the Council of Ministers with immediate effect. Balaji was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on June 14 in a cash-for-jobs scam case.

“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”, stated a release issued by the Raj Bhavan in Tamil Nadu.

The release further stated, “Abusing his position as a minister, he (Senthil Balaji) has been influencing the investigation and obstructing the due process of law and justice. He is in judicial custody in a criminal case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate. Some more criminal cases against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal codes are being investigated by the state police”.

The Minister for Electricity, Prohibition, and Excise in the MK Stalin government, Balaji, was arrested on June 14 and admitted to a government hospital in Chennai after he complained of chest pains. He was allowed by the Madras High Court on June 15 to be shifted to a private hospital of his choice.

The Supreme Court, earlier this month, refused to interfere with the Madras High Court order allowing Balaji to be moved to a private hospital in Chennai and admit a habeas corpus petition filed against his arrest.

Following the development, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Thursday hit out at Governor R N Ravi over the dismissal of minister Senthil Balaji, saying he does not have the right to do so and his government will proceed legally in the matter.

Speaking to reporters in the wake of the arrest of the fellow DMK leader, CM Stalin said, “Governor doesn’t have the right (to dismiss a sitting minister) and we will face this legally”.

Also lashing out at the Governor, DMK leader A Saravanan accused him of undermining the Constitution, saying that the order, dismissing Balaji from the state’s council of ministers, is not even worth the paper it was drafted on.

“Who does the governor thinks he is? Does he have the constitutional authority (to dismiss Senthil Balaji)? The governor is undermining the Constitution. He is catering to Sanatan Dharma. The law of the land isn’t determined by Sanatan Dharma. For a governor, the Constitution should be the Bible, Gita and Quran. He is acting like a clown, trying to appease his political masters. His order isn’t even worth the paper it was drafted on. It must be consigned to the dustbin”, the DMK leader said.

Former Union minister and Congress leader Manish Tewari, too, slammed the dismissal of the jailed minister, tweeting, “Article 164 of COI “The chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister… Since Ministers are appointed on advice of CM they can be removed ONLY on advice of CM Unconstitutional Gov.” (ANI)

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