The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to submit its affidavit on a petition filed by Sanjeev Palande, an arrested aide of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, that seeks to quash the money laundering case lodged by the agency.
Palande, an additional collector-rank official who was working as Deshmukh's personal secretary, was arrested by the ED on June 26 in the money laundering case. He is presently in judicial custody.
In his petition filed earlier this week, Palande sought that the case be quashed. He also challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), under which he has been booked.
The petition said that the FIR registered by the ED was "politically motivated" and that the whole case is based on the vague allegations made by dismissed cop Sachin Waze, who has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a central agency.
Palande further alleged that he has been booked and arrested only "with an intention to create false evidence against the former home minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh and to disrupt the stability of the state of Maharashtra".
When the plea came up for hearing on Friday before a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar, additional solicitor general Anil Singh, appearing for the ED, sought time to respond to the plea.
The court asked the agency to file its affidavit and posted the matter for further hearing on September 28.
In his plea, Palande claimed that the ED has been acting "arbitrarily and ultra vires to the Constitution of India" and that he has not committed any offence and has been falsely implicated.
"The ED lacks jurisdiction for invoking provisions of the Act (PMLA) against the petitioner (Palande) as the predicate offence, on the basis of which the present case is lodged, does not make any allegation against the petitioner," the plea said.
"The present case is baseless, premature and deserves to be quashed," it added.
Palande claimed that he has been booked and arrested based on the alleged statements made by tainted cop Sachin Waze, who is now dismissed from service after his arrest in the Antilia bomb scare and businessman Mansukh Hiran killing case.
"No case can be made out against the petitioner in connection with the alleged crime, as the allegations are vague and merely based on the baseless allegations made by one Sachin Waze, a tainted official, who is neither a witness or accused in the case," the petition said.
It added that the present case is nothing but a "malicious prosecution which is politically motivated without any justified cause and/or reason".
"The petitioner cannot be prosecuted on the statement made by Waze as he is in the custody of the NIA, another agency operating under the Union of India," the petition said.
Palande further claimed that the allegations that Deshmukh, the then home minister, had a role in the transfer of police personnel is incorrect as the chief minister has control over the same and it is done on the recommendation of the Police Establishment Board.
The petition further said that Palande has been in government service since 1998 and has an unblemished record.
The ED had initiated a probe against Deshmukh and his associates after the CBI lodged an FIR against the NCP leader on April 21 this year on charges of corruption and misuse of his official position.
Apart from Palande, the ED has also arrested one Kundan Shinde (Deshmukh's personal assistant) - in the case.
The agency claimed that while serving as the state home minister, Deshmukh had allegedly misused his position and collected through Waze Rs 4.70 crore from various bars and restaurants in Mumbai. The money was then allegedly laundered by the accused persons to a Nagpur-based trust 'Shri Sai Shikshan Sansthan', an educational trust controlled by Deshmukh's family members.
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