Bombay HC extends Eknath Khadse’s interim protection to February 24
The Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday extended interim protection to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Eknath Khadse against coercive action by the Enforcement Directorate till February 24. The court took the decision after it was informed by Khadse that he apprehended being arrested on responding to the summons issued to him by the investigating agency under section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Senior counsel Aabad Ponda, for Khadse, stressed on the fact that while responding to the summons if he refused to disclose any incriminating evidence or documents during the interrogation, then the agency would invoke the power vested in the said section to arrest him on the grounds of non-cooperation. In view of this, Khadse was seeking quashing of not only the summon issued to him on December 23 but the proceedings arising out of the enforcement case information report (ECIR) filed by ED.
While hearing Khadse’s petition, the division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice Manish Pitale was informed by Ponda that Khadse was prompted to file the petition as he was apprehensive of being arrested in connection with the ECIR. He further said that though the NCP leader was not named in the ECIR, the report was prepared in view of the FIR registered against Khadse and others in the Bhosari land deal case at Pune.
ED had, in an earlier hearing, through additional solicitor general Anil Singh submitted that the petition was not maintainable as the summons were actually show-cause proceedings and no appeal could lie against show cause proceedings. In response, Ponda submitted that the summons were issued by the ED director under section 50 of PMLA and hence the petition was valid.
Singh then requested the court to allow the investigation agency to rely on previous judgements which held that petitions which challenged issuance of summons in show-cause proceedings were not maintainable, which the court allowed.
After receiving an affirmative reply to whether ED will continue to not take coercive action, the court posted the petition for hearing on February 24.