Madras HC: Principal sessions court can rule on Senthil Balaji bail
The bench said since the principal sessions court was designated by the Centre as a special court for trying PMLA cases, it cannot transfer the case against Balaji to the special court for MP/MLA.
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Monday set aside the order of the principal sessions court in Chennai to transfer the money laundering case against Minister V Senthil Balaji to the special court for the trial of cases against MP/MLAs. It also ordered the sessions court to take up his bail application.
A division bench of Justices R Suresh Kumar and K Kumaresh Babu gave the ruling on a petition filed by Senthil Balaji seeking clarification on the question of which court is competent to hear the bail application since the principal sessions court, which is designated for PMLA cases, pushed the application to the special court for the trial of MP/MLAs cases.
The bench concluded that since the principal sessions court was designated by the Centre as a special court for trying PMLA cases, it cannot transfer the case against Balaji to the special court for MP/MLA cases. It explained that as per ED, the offence allegedly committed by Senthil Balaji is punishable under section 4 of the PMLA, based on which only the final report (charge sheet) was filed; and the trial in such cases has to be held by the special court for PMLA cases which was constituted under section 43 (1) of the Act by issuing notification by the Central Government.
“The territorial jurisdiction of the case in hand is also Chennai and comes under the jurisdiction of the principal district judge of Chennai, naturally. The case has to be tried by it,” the judges said in the order.
Holding that the very transfer of the case by the principal sessions judge, Chennai, to the special court for MP/MLAs cases ‘is not in consonance’ vis-a-vis the notification issued by the central government, the court set aside the order of transfer.