Governor can remove minister only on cabinet advice: SC on Senthil Balaji | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday turned down a plea challenging the continuance of V Senthil Balaji as minister in Tamil Nadu after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a cash-for-jobs scam and said the governor could remove him only on the recommendation of the cabinet.
A bench of Justices A S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan dismissed an appeal against the decision of Madras High Court which had refused to consider a petition against Balaji’s continuance as a cabinet minister.
“Prima facie, the high court is right that the governor could not have dismissed the minister. The governor has to act on the recommendation of the council of ministers,” the bench said.
“After having heard the petitioner in person and perusing the impugned judgment of the high court, we concur with the view taken by the high court. Therefore, no interference is called for under Article 136 of the Constitution,” it added.
Balaji was arrested on June 14 last year by the ED in a money laundering case linked to a cash-for-jobs scam when he was transport minister under an earlier AIADMK government.
He had challenged his arrest but his plea was rejected by the apex court. He was divested of his portfolios after his arrest but continues to be a minister. Governor R N Ravi in June 2023 dismissed Senthil Balaji from the council of ministers with immediate effect, but he kept his decision in abeyance after facing criticism.
As Balaji continued to be a minister, advocate M L Ravi filed a petition in Madras HC seeking his sacking but the HC rejected the plea.
While referring to the governor’s discretionary powers in such matters, the HC had said, “If the governor chooses to ‘withdraw his pleasure’ in respect of a minister, he must exercise his discretion with the knowledge of the chief minister and not unilaterally. In the present case, the chief minister had never consented for the exercise of discretion by the governor.”
On the petitioner’s submissions on Balaji’s disqualification, HC had said, in the absence of any statutory disqualification incurred by him, it would not be permissible for the court to issue directions to the governor to take a decision in a particular manner.

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