Mumbai: EOW Gives Clean Chit While ED Files Intervention In Sunetra Pawar's MSCB Case; Raises Political And Legal Questions

Mumbai: EOW Gives Clean Chit While ED Files Intervention In Sunetra Pawar's MSCB Case; Raises Political And Legal Questions

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed an intervention application in the court opposing the closure by EOW.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Thursday, April 25, 2024, 12:27 AM IST
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A very bizarre situation is prevailing in the Rs 25,000 crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) case. While the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police's Crime Branch has given a clean chit to Sunetra Pawar, wife of deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar, and others, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed an intervention application in the court opposing the closure.

EOW And ED Contradictions Raise Questions Amid Political Contest In Baramati

While the EOW comes under deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, who holds the home portfolio, the ED is under the Union finance ministry helmed by Nirmala Sitharaman, also of the BJP. The question arises whether the BJP is undecided what to do with Sunetra, who is the NCP candidate for the Lok Sabha poll in Baramati and is locked in a tough contest with her relative Supriya Pawar of NCP (Sharad Pawar). The other prominent person to get a clean chit is Rohit Pawar of the Pawar clan.

A senior lawyer told the Free Press Journal on the condition of anonymity said, “The two agencies cannot take contradictory stands on the same set of facts. The inquiry report cited by the EOW needs to be relooked. Either the EOW is right or the ED. The court has to take a call on this.” Shiv Sena (UBT) was quick to respond, alleging that Suntera was taken off the hook since she is a part of the ruling dispensation in Maharashtra. However, with the ED opposing the closure, Suntera and Ajit will continue to be under pressure to toe the BJP's line.

EOW Files Closure Report In Case

The EOW had filed the closure report before a special judge for the cases linked to MPs and MLAs, R N Rokade, in March. The details were made available only on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the original complainant in the case, Surinder Arora, told the FPJ that he has filed a protest petition against the closure report. The ED, probing a related case, has sought to intervene in the matter. The EOW had filed its first first closure report in September 2020, which was accepted by the court. However, in October 2022, the probe agency had informed the special court that it was conducting further investigation into the matter based on the points raised by the protest petitioners (complainants) and the ED.

FIR Filed Against Ajit And Others For Alleged Financial Irregularities At MSCB

The EOW had filed an FIR under the Indian Penal Code sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating), the Prevention of Corruption Act, and Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act. Registered following a high court order in August 2019, the FIR named Ajit and more than 70 others, who were directors of the MSCB during the relevant period, as accused. As per the FIR, the state exchequer suffered losses of Rs25,000 crore between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2017 due to irregularities at the bank. Banking and RBI regulations were violated, while disbursing loans to sugar mills at very low rates and selling off assets of defaulter businesses at throw-away prices, the FIR alleged.

With Inputs From PTI

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