Mumbai: A special court made scathing observations against the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for its “pick and choose” attitude in not arresting the main accused Rakesh Wadhawan and his son Sarang Wadhawan of Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd. (HDIL).
It granted bail on parity to their co-accused Viva Holdings director Mehul Thakur in a money laundering case concerning Mack Star-Yes Bank.
Earlier case involving Wadhawans where Ed failed to act
In Nov last year, the court had granted bail to Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut in another case related to redevelopment of Patra Chawl in Goregaon and similarly questioned the agency for not arresting the Wadhawans who were the main accused in that case, too.
Court calls Wadhawans main conspirators in case
In the present case, the court stated that the role attributed to the Wadhawans indicates that they were main conspirators and yet they were not arrested, while Thakur was arrested. It also named Yes Bank officials and said they had played an equal role and contributed to the generation of proceeds of crime of Rs200 crores and further laundering it. “Astonishingly none of them was ever arrested by the ED during investigation,” Special Judge MG Deshpande designated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) said in his 61-page order on Monday.
The ED had told the court regarding the non-arrest of Wadhawans that they were already in judicial custody in another case and that it had recorded their statements. It had further told the court that it is its “prerogative” whom to arrest and whom not to. Judge Deshpande pointed out that non-arrest has far-reaching, serious and damaging consequences. The court said once arrested under section 19 of the PMLA Act, there is a barrier of twin conditions to be satisfied while releasing on bail, while persons like Wadhawans not arrested get an automatic rescue from twin conditions and makes their rescue a mere formality, leaving no alternative to the court.
Thakur is entitled to parity: Court
“Therefore it is ED that made the way to the rescue of Wadhawans and Yes Banktop officials very easy…” the court stated, adding that Thakur is entitled to parity as the main accused were already rescued.
Judge Deshpande further stated that uniformity and certainty in the decision of the court are the foundations of judicial dispensation and this aspect cannot be ignored while looking at the non-arrest of the Wadhawans by the ED. The court did not accept the ED’s contentions and called them “unfounded”.
It called the non-arrest a “sheer disparity” made by the ED for reasons best known to them. “Can the court act simply as their rubber stamp by shutting eyes,” Judge Deshpande asked in the strongly-worded order.
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