Eknath Khadse
Eknath Khadse
File Photo

NCP leader Eknath Khadse on Wednesday sought 15 days time to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED), citing symptoms of COVID-19. Khadse, a former BJP leader who joined the NCP recently, received summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last week to appear before it on December 30 in Mumbai.

Khadse, who has been nominated by NCP to the legislative council from the Governor’s quota, had said the ED summons is in connection with the purchase of a three-acre plot on his wife’s name in Bhosari near Pune. Khadse in June 2016 had resigned in the wake of charges of corruption and misuse of power.

Citing COVID-19 symptoms, Khadse has sought 15 days time to appear before the ED. The result of his COVID-19 test is awaited, Khadse reportedly told the central agency.

Khadse, considered the No 2 in the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government, had resigned in the wake of charges of corruption and misuse of power.

What is the Pune land deal case?

The ED is conducting an enquiry under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) Act. The agency probe will revolve around the deal and if there are any proceeds of crime. The PMLA defines proceeds of crime as “any property derived or obtained, directly or indirectly, by any person as a result of criminal activity relating to a scheduled offence or the value of any such property”.

Earlier, the Anti-Corruption Bureau Pune and Nashik, the Income Tax Department and the Justice Dinkar Zoting Commission had conducted inquiries in this matter. I had submitted all papers and extended my cooperation during probes,’’ said Khadse. He further added that the land deal is worth Rs 5 crore as per the ready recknor rates.

“So far four inquiries into the Bhosari land deal, which is in my wife’s name, has been done. Now ED’s is the fifth such probe. Whenever ED will call me I will remain present as it has every power to conduct a probe. I will cooperate,” noted Khadse. He however, declined to comment whether it was the BJP’s handiwork or the political vendetta.

The case was filed acting on the orders of the Bombay High Court. Justice Ranjit More and Revati Mohite Dere ordered ACB to investigate the case. In 2018, the ACB had given a clean chit to Khadse in the Bhosari land deal and observed that there was no evidence that the latter was aware that his wife, Mandakini, and son-in-law, Girish Choudhary, had purchased the plot.

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