The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) on Tuesday sought cancellation of bail of Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut and his aide Pravin Raut contending that while releasing them on bail, the lower court made observations as if it was dealing with a public interest litigation (PIL).
Raut was arrested by the ED on July 31, 2022, in an alleged money laundering case in connection with the redevelopment of Patra Chawl in Goregaon. On November 9, 2022, the special judge granted bail to Raut and Pravin and made scathing observations in its order on the “pick-and-choose” attitude of the ED. It said said the agency made an “illegal” arrest of Raut, while letting the main accused go scot-free.
The agency has challenged the bail granted to the two before the Bombay High Court.
On Tuesday, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh argued that the special judge also made observations on points that were not even argued. “No one had argued about illegal arrest and he (special judge) has observed that. Then he makes observations of the conduct of the agency as if he is dealing with a public interest litigation while it was nobody’s case about the lethargy of the officers…. That cannot be a ground for granting bail,” argued Singh.
"PMLA offences are heinous crimes like murder and terrorism"
Singh also argued that the special judge took note of irrelevant factors while ignoring relevant ones while granting bail. He said: “Both bail applications were allowed. The court has not taken into consideration certain factors… in fact it ignored the relevant factors. A totally incorrect test has been applied for granting the bail. PMLA offences are heinous crimes like murder and terrorism.”
The ASG further said that the special court had made observations against the agency’s “pick and choose” policy, which was not even argued by any of the parties.
He pointed out that none of the tenants of Patra Chawl were rehabilitated or given a redeveloped building. He submitted that the FSI was sold to a company called HDIL, which then forwarded the money to Pravin Raut, with Sanjay Raut the ultimate beneficiary.
Justice Anuja Prabhudessai questioned the agency as to how that would constitute “proceeds of crime”.
Singh said that the transactions happened during 2009-2010. Pravin Raut had argued before the special court that the money was through sale of sweat equity, but as confirmed by one of the officers there were no sweat equity shares, added Singh.
The HC will continue hearing ED’s plea on Wednesday.