Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut’s close friend and businessman Sujit Patkar being probed by the crime branch’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) for irregularities in services of jumbo Covid care centres, has moved the sessions court seeking protection from arrest. He claimed that he is being prosecuted because he is perceived to be close to the Shiv Sena.
While he did not directly name the Sena, he referred it to as a political party, which was in power till recently in the state. His application further said that merely because his ideology or political affiliation is perceived to be averse to the political dispensation in the state, the prosecution cannot be permitted. His plea further said that the complainant BJP leader Kirit Somaiya “has an axe to grind against his political opponents”.
Responsible for many Covid deaths
Patkar and three others are partners in Lifeline Hospital Management Services that provided contract service to jumbo Covid centres. The Crime Branch claims the firm submitted false information to bag the contracts of two centres in Dahisar and Worli. The firm allegedly cheated the civic body of ₹38 lakh and was also responsible for deaths caused during treatment of Covid patients.
In its reply filed before the court on Friday to Patkar’s plea for relief, the Crime Branch while opposing the relief informed the court that it has added the charge of Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code against the accused, but dropped 304(A) (death by negligence) as it did not find any evidence in the investigation to support the charge.
No audit was conducted on the firm
The Crime Branch also informed the court that the probe so far has found that though the firm’s annual turnover was more than ₹10 crore, no audit was conducted by it nor the partners provided any documents showing the firm’s IT returns. Pointing to an anomaly, the response stated that the bids invited by the BMC were between June 26-27, 2020 for providing services to the Covid centres. It said that though the firm was formed on June 26, 2020, Patkar used its letterhead on June 19, 2020, to express interest in getting the bids.
The court has directed that no coercive action be taken against Patkar till July 11.