Bombay high court rejects Anandrao Adsul’s plea against ED proceedings
In a setback for Shiv Sena leader and former Member of Parliament (MP) Anandrao Adsul, the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday rejected his petition challenging an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with banking fraud.
Adsul has been named as a suspect in the alleged ₹980-crore fraud at City Co-operative Bank. The HC, however, granted liberty to Adsul to move an anticipatory bail application for protection against coercive action and arrest and directed the court which would hear the application to decide it without being influenced by the HC ruling.
The division bench of justice Nitin Jamdar and justice Sarang Kotwal, while hearing Adsul’s petition, was informed by advocate Dr Abhinav Chandrachud that he sought quashing of the proceedings arising out of the ECIR and also challenged the summons issued to his client.
Dr Chandrachud argued that the action by the agency was arbitrary and smacked of political vendetta and selective approach by the ED at the behest of Navneet Kaur Rana, an independent MP from Amravati as the HC had cancelled and confiscated her caste certificate in June after he challenged it. The petition further stated that Kaur-Rana’s husband Ravi Rana and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kirit Somaiya had prompted the ED to take up the case in which he had himself filed a first information report (FIR) against fraudulent loans.
Adsul who was the former chairman of the bank had filed a case with the economic offences wing of the Mumbai Police alleging misappropriation of funds by bank officials. The complaint had claimed that loans were doled out to entities and individuals with very low or no collateral.
The ED is now also probing the role of Adsul and his son Abhijeet who is a director in the board of the bank, as they have allegedly found that Adsul had been the beneficiary of some of the loans given by the bank.
Apart from seeking quashing of the proceedings arising out of the ECIR, Adsul sought a copy of the ECIR, pending hearing of his petition in HC and he be granted interim protection from coercive action.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh for ED submitted that the ECIR had no connection with the political rivalry and elections and was based on the case of the fraudulent loans.
Singh added that though Adsul may have been a complainant, the ED has to trace where the proceeds of crime had gone and hence had summoned Adsul for questioning. He added that providing a copy of the ECIR was the prerogative of the agency and the petitioner could not claim it as a right. In light of these submissions, Singh sought dismissal of the petition.
After hearing the submissions, the court held that as the ECIR was an internal document of the ED, it could not quash it and hence rejected Adsul’s petition with liberty for him to file an anticipatory bail application.