TN Governor puts Senthil Balaji's dismissal order on hold
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi on Thursday took back a contentious order, announcing the dismissal of Minister V Senthil Balaji from the Council of Ministers. The order was issued without consulting Chief Minister MK Stalin amid a bitter standoff with the ruling DMK government in the State.
The CM retained Balaji, who is in jail amid criminal proceedings following his arrest on June 14 in connection with a cash-for-jobs scandal, as a minister without portfolio and Governor Ravi had decided to unilaterally override it.
At present, Senthil Balaji is in judicial custody in a private hospital having undergone a heart bypass surgery.
In an official statement, the Raj Bhavan said Balaji "is facing serious criminal proceedings in a number of cases of corruption, including taking cash for jobs and money laundering. Under these circumstances, the Governor has dismissed Senthil Balaji from the Council of Ministers with immediate effect."
However, late in the night, sources in the Governor's office said he was consulting the Attorney General on the matter and the decision was on hold. Mr Balaji will remain minister for now, they said.
The Tamil Nadu government had planned to disregard the original order and challenge it in the Supreme Court, sources said.
MK Stalin lashed out at the Governor, saying he does not have the right to dismiss the minister and his government will proceed legally in the matter. "Governor doesn't have the right (to dismiss a sitting minister) and we will face this legally," he said.
DMK leader A Saravanan accused the Governor 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".