Bombay high court grants pre-arrest bail to NCP leader Eknath Khadse’s wife
The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday granted interim anticipatory bail to Mandakini Khadse, wife of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Eknath Khadse, in connection with the Pune land deal, being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The court has asked ED to file a reply to her anticipatory bail application and posted a hearing of the anticipatory bail application on December 7.
The single-judge bench of justice Nitin Sambre, while hearing the anticipatory bail application was informed by senior advocate Raja Thakare that the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Mandakini on Tuesday after she failed to appear before it in connection with the charge sheet filed by ED.
The ED has in its charge sheet named Khadse, Mandakini and son-in-law Girish Chaudhari and two others as accused in a money-laundering case.
The ED has alleged that in 2016 when Khadse was the revenue minister in the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, he had misused his position in the Bhosari land deal to benefit his family. While Chaudhari is in custody, another co-accused Ravindra Muley was granted bail last week
Thakare informed the bench that the special court had earlier rejected the anticipatory bail application of his client in the first week of October after she had received summons from the ED. The special court had held that the application was not maintainable before it. Thereafter, on Tuesday, a non-bailable warrant was issued against her.
In its warrant, the special court had noted that despite giving an undertaking that she would appear, Mandakini was “wilfully avoiding” appearance before the court. It held that the medical ground given for her exemption from appearance on Tuesday was not satisfactory and issued the warrant against her.
When the bench asked as to why she was not appearing before the special court, Thakare assured that she would do so on October 21 and was also willing to cooperate with the ED. The bench then directed her to appear before ED on every Tuesday and Friday from October 17 till further orders.
However, advocate Sandesh Patil for ED objected to the maintainability of the pre-arrest bail plea but the bench noted that it had not gone into the details or the merits of the plea and kept ED’s contentions open to argue further.