PMLA court issues non-bailable warant against wife of NCP leader Eknath Khadse
A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail application of Mandakini Khadse, the wife of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Eknath Khadse, and issued a non-bailable warrant for her arrest for failing to appear before the court.
The court has exempted Eknath Khadse from personal appearance, as he has been advised to take bed rest.
On September 4, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a charge sheet, naming Eknath Khadse, Mandakini, son-in-law Girish Chaudhari, sub-registrar Ravindra Muley and Benchmark Buildcon Private Limited as accused in the Bhosari (Pune) land deal case.
Additional sessions judge HS Satbhai had taken cognisance of ED’s charge sheet and had issued process against the accused to appear before it.
Eknath Khadse and Mandakini did not appear before the court in the past few hearings, after which ED’s counsels, Hiten Venegaonkar and Kavita Patil, had moved an application for issuing of a warrant against both of them.
On October 6, the court was told by senior counsel Aabad Ponda and Swapnil Ambure that Eknath Khadse had undergone surgery for grade-3 haemorrhoids in Bombay Hospital. He demanded exemption from appearance from the court, while Mandakini had filed an anticipatory bail application fearing arrest.
The court on Tuesday dismissed her bail plea stating that it was not maintainable and accepted ED’s application to issue a warrant against her. The court issued a warrant against her for not appearing before it.
Mandakini’s counsel, Raja Thakare and Mohan Tekavade, requested the judge for time to challenge the order issued by the special PMLA court before the Bombay high court. However, the judge rejected it.
The judge observed: “Though Mandakini Khadse was served summons she chose not to appear in person. She caused her appearance through advocate, who moved the application seeking exemption from appearance. That was allowed and on her undertaking, time was granted to appear, but on last date also, she did not appear and insisted to decide her anticipatory bail application first. On last date also, she was asked to appear today. But again today, she is absent. The medical certificate relied by her showed the general ailments of fever, body ache weakness etc. The medical ground is not satisfactory to exempt her from appearance in court. She has also moved application to challenge the order on her bail, the copy of order is ready. The accused may approach honourable high court. But for that considering her conduct and disobedience of the summons and undertaking, it is not just to grant time for her appearance. She is wilfully avoiding to appear before the court. Her absence is intentional (sic).”
The court granted exemption to Eknath Khadse for Tuesday only after Ponda told the court he was asked to take bed rest after laser haemorrhoidectomy. The court adjourned the matter to October 21 for the return of non-bailable warrant and Eknath Khadse’s appearance.
The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) had registered an FIR against Eknath Khadse, Mandakini, Chaudhari and the original land owner Abbas Ukani on the directions of HC. However, the agency and Pune Police later closed the case.
ED had registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) on the basis of ACB’s case.
It is alleged that when Khadse was the revenue minister in 2016, he used his position and government machinery to manipulate the actual market price of the land, and it cost the state exchequer a loss of ₹61.25 crore.
ED had alleged that Chaudhari and Khadse bought the land at Bhosari for ₹3.75 crore when its actual price was ₹31 crore.
The land was purchased to get compensation from Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) which was three times of the actual value of the land, it was alleged.