Sun, 23 Jan 2022

New Delhi [India], January 12 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted former AIADMK Minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji bail for four weeks in connection with a job scam case.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli allowed the bail to the former Minister on the condition that he shall not leave the jurisdiction of the police station in which the crime was registered.

The apex court ordered Bhalaji, who held the Milk and Dairy Development portfolio in the previous AIADMK government, to surrender his passport and cooperate with the investigation.

It also slammed the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government in Tamil Nadu over the manner in which Bhalaji was arrested when his appeal against the rejection of anticipatory bail by the Madras High Court was pending before the top court.

The Bench wondered whether a judicial inquiry should be ordered into the circumstances that led to his arrest and asked the State government to file an affidavit explaining its stand.

It also sought to know why after the arrest, Bhalaji was taken to the Trichy prison which is 300 km away from the Madurai prison which was the jurisdictional prison.

The bench expressed unhappiness that even the lawyers of Bhalaji, had been raided by police.

"The manner in which he was arrested, the manner in which the lawyer's office was raided... It is objectionable," the Bench remarked.

The top court was hearing an appeal challenging Madras High Court's order rejecting anticipatory bail applications filed by Bhalaji and a writ petition filed challenging his arrest and seeking quashing of FIRs filed against him. The apex court listed the case after three weeks.

The Tamil Nadu Police arrested Bhalaji, after a three-week search, from Haasan in Karnataka on January 5. He is accused of taking money to offer jobs in Aavin, the state-run milk producer, as minister for dairy development.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, for Bhalaji, told the Bench that the case was a product of political vendetta.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, denied the accusations of personal vendetta against Bhalaji.

Rohatgi told the Bench that the police complaint against Bhalaji was registered in August 2021. "For the next five months, the State did not do anything. If this was a case of personal vendetta, we would have arrested him the next day of the complaint in August," he added. (ANI)

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