RN Ravi
Ravi has had repeated run-ins with the DMK government on many issues. File Photo: Twitter

TN governor backtracked on Senthil Balaji's 'sacking' on Amit Shah's advice

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Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi reversed his decision to sack Minister Senthil Balaji from the state Cabinet within hours of rubbing the DMK the wrong way following a hurried advice from Union Home Minister Amit Shah, reports quoting contents of a letter written by Ravi have said.

Close to midnight on Thursday, Ravi put out a communication which read: “I have been advised by the Union Minister of Home Affairs that it would be prudent to seek the opinion of the Attorney General also.”

Also read: DMK may look at ways to take on TN Governor Ravi over Senthil Balaji’s ‘dismissal’

“Accordingly, I am approaching the Attorney General for his opinion. Meanwhile, the order of dismissal of the minister V Senthil Balaji may be kept in abeyance until further communication from me,” media reports quoted it as saying.

It was a dramatic U-turn by the controversial governor who has had repeated run-ins with the DMK government on many issues and who on Thursday unilaterally sacked Balaji, arrested on charges of corruption.

Balaji’s sacking

His first letter announcing the sacking of the minister while overriding the DMK government’s view was five pages long.

“I am conscious of the fact that under ordinary circumstances, a governor acts on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. However, in the instant case your advice or, to put it more appropriately, your insistence to retain V Senthil Balaji against my advice as a member of the council of ministers reflects your unhealthy bias,” Ravi said.

He said Balaji was facing “serious criminal proceedings in a number of cases of corruption, including taking cash for jobs and money-laundering.

Also read: Tamil Nadu Governor takes back dismissal of Senthil Balaji after severe backlash

“There are reasonable apprehensions that continuation of V Senthil Balaji as a minister will continue to obstruct the due process of law and disrupt the course of justice. Such a situation may eventually lead to breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state.

“Under such circumstances and the powers conferred to me under articles 154, 163 and 164 of the constitution, I hereby dismiss V Senthil Balaji from the Council of Ministers with immediate effect.”

Shah’s intervention

The governor’s move, a first in recent memory, was slammed by the DMK, which rules Tamil Nadu, and its allies.

Shah’s intervention indicates that the Centre may have realized that the governor had overstepped his brief.

According to a Supreme Court decision in 1975 on the role and powers of the president of India and governors, they cannot act unilaterally.

Also read: Tamil Nadu: Senthil Balaji’s judicial custody extended till July 12 in money laundering case

“The constitutional conclusion is that the governor is but a shorthand expression for the state government and the president is an abbreviation for the Central government,” says the judgment.

Senthil Balaji, arrested two weeks ago by the Enforcement Directorate, was retained as a minister without portfolio by Chief Minister MK Stalin.

A court in Chennai has extended his judicial custody till July 12.

Before governor Ravi backtracked, Stalin had threatened to approach the Supreme Court.

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