Mumbai: The special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court has rejected businessman Abhay Lodha's claim, the promoter of Topworth Steels and Power Pvt Ltd, that his detention prior to his arrest was illegal.
Lodha was arrested on August 29 for allegedly defrauding IDBI Bank of ₹60.28 crore. It was claimed by Lodha's lawyers that on September 8, he moved a plea asserting his arrest was illegal, hence his custody could not be extended further. The lawyers later argued that Lodha was not shown the grounds of his arrest.
Allegations by Lodha
Lodha stated that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches at his house from the morning of August 29. During this time, his movements were restrained, and his mobile phone was seized. It was claimed that the search ended only on the morning of August 30.
Lodha claimed that after the completion of the office search, he was handed summons by the ED officer and taken to the ED office at Ballard Estate in a highly restrictive manner. He alleged he was restrained for more than 24 hours and was not produced before the special court. He also later claimed that the grounds for his arrest were not given to him.
In response, the ED argued that the plea was not maintainable, stating that these aspects were heard during the ED's first plea to seek his custody for interrogation. They also contended that taking an accused person for a house/office search does not amount to house arrest.
Special Judge MG Deshpande, after hearing both sides, held that the plea filed by Lodha was nothing but an afterthought, as he never complained about it when he was first produced before the court.
"The accused had not raised a word of contention regarding ill-treatment by way of his confinement as alleged in these applications. Confining a person within specific limits also amounts to a sort of ill-treatment, but the accused had never made any complaints as such when he was specifically asked about the same," the court said.
The court further noted, "Certainly, evidence could not have been collected if the searches were undertaken in the absence of the accused. In such a situation, if the ED had secured the presence of the accused to assist them during the course of the house and office search, it cannot be assumed as confinement, house arrest, or implied arrest, as contended in the application."