Mumbai: A special court while refusing bail to former revenue minister Eknath Khadse’s son-in-law Girish Chaudhari in a Pune land deal case has said in a detailed order that there is glaring material showing his involvement in money laundering and that the offence was committed by misusing the position by the then revenue minister for the benefits of his wife and son-in-law.
The court said that if bail is granted in such an offence, it will convey a bad message to law-abiding society. Additional Sessions Judge MG Deshpande said in his order, “There is sufficient material to hold that the revenue minister has taken advantage of his post, influenced the departments under his control for his personal interest in the land..”
The original owner Abbas Ukani, now an accused in the case, had filed a writ petition against the MIDC in 2015 regarding the land, which is still pending before the HC. The court pointed out that ignoring the pendency of the petition, immediately Khadse’s wife and son-in-law entered into a registered sale deed in respect of the land. “All this clearly shows that the applicant will do anything for his personal scores and will influence the trial..” In another part in the order, the court said there is prima facie indication that influence has been exercised by the then revenue minister. It said that it cannot be ignored that Mr. Eknath Khadse belongs to one of the ruling parties of the government of Maharashtra. “The way in which the offence has been committed not only indicates the gravity thereof, but also the brain behind it and the calculated steps to commit the same,” it stated.
Khadse in his statement to the ED had said he was not aware of the land deal entered into by his wife and son-in-law. The court questioned how a responsible person such as the revenue minister can state that he was not aware of the land deal entered into by his wife and son-in-law so in respect of a property in dispute pending before him.
Judge Deshpande said that considering the politicial position of his father-in-law, there is possibility of his pressurizing the witnesses.
The probe in the case is at the fag-end, it said. Chaudhari had claimed that the charge sheet is filed and hence he can be released. The court said about this, that it is not a case where he has been languishing for an endless period without trial and that endeavour will be made to begin the trial as early as possible. It also expressed the apprehension that Chaudhari, being a UK citizen, may flee the country.