Mumbai court allows ED to take businessman Pravin Raut to Delhi for questioning in PACL case

Judge Deshpande said further that a note needs to be taken that except the ED and the CBI there are no other investigating agencies who are availing such modus operandi.

Bhavna UchilUpdated: Tuesday, July 26, 2022, 11:25 PM IST
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Mumbai court allows ED to take businessman Pravin Raut to Delhi for questioning in PACL case | File Image

A special court on Tuesday permitted the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to take custody of businessman Pravin Raut who is in its custody in a money laundering case to be produced before a Delhi court, but on the strict condition that the agency gives an undertaking that he will be brought back to a Mumbai jail safely immediately after his custodial interrogation ends. While insisting on an undertaking the court reasoned that from the ED’s flatly refusing to give an undertaking, prima facie indicates that its bonafides are not clear.

The court had been insisting on an undertaking as in another case concerning Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd’s (DHFL) promoters Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan who were also in the court’s custody, the brothers had been taken to UP from Taloja jail by CBI officers without intimation to the court. The court had termed it an ‘illegal transfer’ and issued production warrants but to no avail. When the ED sought the transfer of Raut, the court raised questions on the conduct of the central agencies and demanded an undertaking for Raut.

Special Judge MG Deshpande under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) said in the detailed order, “It is made clear that ED cannot avail such modus operandi and completely stall the proceedings pending in this court. If they are doing so, it is serious. Hampering the progress of the proceedings at the behest of alleged investigation at New Delhi that too by suppressing legal norms and substituting the self created modus operandi is certainly not authority vested in the agency.” The Judge said further, “I strongly feel that once the accused is handed over to ED without taking an undertaking, there is imminent danger that he will not be returned to this court and the court will have to be a silent spectator. Court cannot be a helpless bystander.”

Referring to the Wadhawan brothers’ episode, the court said that till date they are not readmitted in jail hampering progress of their trial. Both of them are ‘trialless’, it said.

The court stated that in its order, that to safeguard the rights of the Wadhawans, it had sent request letters to the Lucknow court four times in June and July. “Shockingly, except the reply by the CBI simply referring to orders passed by Lucknow court, no further information is given to this court. I am constrained to note that since May 24, 2022, it is more than two months. This court has not been told by the prosecution where those accused are,” Judge Deshpande said. The Judge added, “I strongly feel that the investigating officer, New Delhi has purposely hushed up both orders dated July 11, 16, and avoided to disclose the same to the court for reasons best known to them.” The court said all this prima facie indicates that the same horrific scenario is likely to happen with Raut.

Judge Deshpande said further that a note needs to be taken that except the ED and the CBI there are no other investigating agencies who are availing such modus operandi.

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