Pune land deal case against Khadse: Sub-registrar gets bail; deed not undervalued, says court
While giving bail to the sub-registrar in the Pune land deal case registered against senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Eknath Khadse and his wife Mandakini, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court has observed that prima facie it does not appear that the sale deal registered in 2016 was undervalued to pay the stamp duty.
The court also observed that there was a lack of material showing any connivance or meeting of minds of accused with each other, and actual involvement in any process connected with the proceeds of crime, including concealment, acquisition or use etc.
Additional sessions judge, HS Sathbhai had granted bail to Ravindra Muley, a sub-registrar from Haveli, Pune on October 4.
Advocate Mohan Tekavade had appeared for Muley and had argued that there was no loss to the state exchequer due to the registration of the agreement, the no-objection certificate (NOC) of MIDC was not required and the section of PMLA was not applicable in the case.
In the detailed order, the court has said that from the material available on record, it is not established prima facie that prior to April 28, 2016 — the date of registration of land — accused Muley was a part of a conspiracy with alleged accused Eknath Khadse, Mandakini and son-in-law Girish Chaudhari.
There are allegations of assisting the other accused or knowingly operating all the activities of using proceeds of crime for sale transaction, the material on record is not substantial to attract sections 3 and 4 of PMLA Act for money-laundering and punishment for money laundering.
A specific charge against the accused Muley states that while working in the capacity as sub-registrar, he misused his position and registered the instrument sale deal showing a value of only ₹3.75 crores, which was originally valued at ₹22.83 crores. He also ignored the rights of MIDC over the land and did not insist on the NOC of MIDC, while registering the instrument.
The judge observed a perusal of the papers of complaint and observed that the consideration shown was ₹3.75 crores, as per ready reckoner of the state government; however, the land was fetching the value of ₹22.83 crores. It appears that on the reckoner, the stamp duty of ₹1.37 crores was paid by the person who presented the document to Muley for registration.
The judge stated that appropriate stamp duty of ₹1.37 crores was paid at the rate of 6% of market value on the deal. The judge further added prima facie appears no loss has been caused to the state exchequer; Muley cannot be blamed because the executors of the sale deal showed the consideration value as only ₹3.75 crores.
The special judge further observed that the name of MIDC was not appearing in the ownership column of the land in question. The name of only one Abbas Ukani was appearing. Prima facie, it is not shown by the complainant that for registering the instrument, prior permission or NOC of MIDC was required. A perusal of the Registration Act, 1908, that the registration officer is not required to verify the title of the transferor, the judge said.
He added that when the name of MIDC was not appearing in the ownership column of the land, of which, the sale deal came from registration before Muley and name of MIDC was appearing in the other right column of 7/12 extract, there was no propriety to ask for any NOC of MIDC, before registering the document.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had alleged through counsel Hiten Venegoankar and Kavita Patil that Muley had misused his position and in connivance with other accused registered the instrument sale deal of land having a value of ₹22.83 crores by showing its market value at ₹3.75 crores. While registering he also did not take into account the rights of MIDC and did not insist on the NOC of MIDC, before registering the document.
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.
The court had taken cognizance of ED’s charge sheet and had issued a process against the accused to appear before it, after which Muley was taken into custody by the court.
The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) had registered a first information report against Khadse, Mandakini, Chaudhari and the original landowner Abbas Ukani on HC’s directions. However, the agency and Pune Police later closed the case.
It is alleged that when Khadse was the revenue minister in 2016, he used his position 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 for ₹3.75 crore when its actual price was ₹22.83 crores.