The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court on Monday that an internal note of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation’s (MIDC) CEO indicated that former revenue minister Eknath Khadse held a meeting in his office on 12 April 2016 with regard to the Pune land deal in which his son-in-law is now under arrest and gave directions over its acquisition, though he did not hold charge over MIDC.
The court had noted during his son-in-law Girish Chaudhari’s last production before it for custody, that probe papers showed that the meeting was held by Khadse for the acquisition of the land and that Khadse had given directions to immediately start the process for its acquisition as there was ‘injustice to the owner of the land’. After 15 days, the land deal had taken place for only 3.75 crores and was purchased by Chaudhari and Khadse’s wife Mandakini, while the market price of the land then as per government records was 31 crores.
The ED said Khadse in his statement to it recorded recently, had said it was a regular meeting of the MIDC and as an MLA and minister holding 12 ministries then, he had guided a person who had grievance and informed the concerned department or ministry.
Seeking further custody of the son-in-law for nine days, the agency told the court that it recorded the statement of an ex-director of Benchmark Buildcon, Arvind Udeshi. Chaudhari claims a loan of Rs. 2 crores to buy the Pune land was provided by this company. Udeshi said that it was just a paper company and that he received Rs. 25,000 monthly for putting signatures on balance sheets. The agency said he further stated that from the same address two other companies also operate. Earlier the ED had told the court that the Buildcon had received funds from five other companies and had immediately transferred these funds to Chaudhari.
It also pointed out that Chaudhari in his statement has said that he had dealt with Om Prakash, Chief Director of Benchmark Buildcon. ED pointed out that Udeshi did not mention any such person and that as per the Registrar of Companies, there is no such person holding the designation. It also said that Chaudhari was not cooperating and had become evasive on specific queries. Its probe revealed, it said, that power of attorney holders who received the money from Chaudhari and on whose behalf stamp duty was paid, were not connected with the said land. It said it would be analyzing Chaudhari’s bank accounts to find any foreign debit or credit and to probe the source of funds.
Chaudhari’s lawyer Mohan Tekavde opposed further custody arguing that all required documents are with government departments and there is no question of tampering. The court extended his custody till 15 July.