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HomeIndiaCourt: Raut arrest outcome of ‘pick & choose strategy’ | India News

Court: Raut arrest outcome of ‘pick & choose strategy’ | India News

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MUMBAI: Granting bail to Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, a special PMLA court said on Wednesday the exceptional power of effecting arrest, which ought to have been used sparingly, has been used in an “ab initio illegal” manner by ED.
Raut was arrested in a Rs 1,034-crore money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the redevelopment of Patra Chawl in Goregaon West. The court said there was nothing to show that Sanjay Raut and his friend Pravin Raut had involved themselves in the project “with an intention to fraudulently induce and cheat Mhada and 672 occupants” of the chawl.
The judge questioned the allegation of proceeds of crime changing hands due to ED’s contradictory stands on the source of Rs 95crore given to Pravin Raut. In its order for both accused, the judge said their illegal arrests were an outcome of a “pick and choose strategy”.
Stating that ED allowed the main accused, ex-HDIL promoters Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan, to go free, he questioned why ED had not arrested Mhada and other officials. “Skipping all officials… is nothing but conveying a message to then (2007) Union agriculture minister and CM (ED says they attended meetings in connection with the project) creating fear psyche they are next. ” Sharad Pawar was the agriculture minister and Vilasrao Deshmukh the CM then.
The judge said labelling pure civil disputes as “moneylaundering” or “an economic offence” cannot automatically give it such status. He said Sanjay Raut was arrested “for no reason”. “This truth is glaring. The court is under legal obligation and duty to find out truth even at the stage of bail,” it said.
In his 122-page order, special judge MG Deshpande questioned the “legal necessity” to arrest Sanjay Raut at midnight. Sanjay Raut was shown to have been arrested at 12. 35am on August 1. The court noted that on July 31, his house was raided and he was not allowed to move anywhere throughout the day. The judge also referred to the conditions in which he was held despite him saying he had undergone angioplasty twice and had six stents in his heart.
“He also made a complaint…how he was kept in a room without ventilation… It is only then due to the court intervention he could get a room with some ventilation in ED custody. All this prima-facie indicates that his arrest is nothing but a witchhunt,” Deshpande said.
ED had urged the court not to bring the order into effect until Friday. However, senior counsel Aabad Ponda representing Pravin Raut opposed it. Rejecting the ED’s plea, the judge said, “Both accused are permitted to be released on provisional cash security of Rs 2 lakh each with PR bond for two months. ”
Raut was taken back to Arthur Road jail from where he was released at 6. 45pm.
In its supplementary chargesheet submitted against Sanjay Raut and others in September, the ED had alleged that in 2006-07, Raut attended meetings, one with officers of Mhada “chaired by the then Union agriculture minister”, and another “chaired by a former CM” in connection with the project.
The judge noted that it was astonishing that no minutes of the meetings were recorded. The judge also pointed out that it was prima facie evident that one Chandan Kelekar who was not even a government official but allegedly participated in those meetings had told the ED about minute details “out of his photographic memory”.
The court also noted that explanations given by the accused on transactions cited to show money laundering were not taken into account.
Witness under a cloud
The ED had linked Sanjay Raut to tainted money from the Patra Chawl project by claiming he used it to buy properties in Kihim, relying mostly on the statements of Swapna Patkar, estranged wife of Sujit Patkar, Raut’s family friend. The special PMLA court on Wednesday raised serious doubts over her statements, reports Vijay V Singh. The court dismissed as hearsay her claim that Raut had threatened the land owners and compelled them to sell to him and Sujit Patkar.
It also wondered why she had not been made an accused since the ED’s claims and materials available through her statements prima facie demonstrate that she had dealt with proceeds of crime, same as Raut, with alleged knowledge thereof.



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