Why keen on arresting Eknath Khadse, Bombay HC asks ED
The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday sought to know from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as to why the apprehension of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Eknath Khadse of being arrested was not unfounded. Khadse submitted that though he was not an accused as per the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) in the Bhosari land deal case, his refusal to answer may become grounds for his arrest.
A division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice Manish Pitale, while hearing Khadse’s petition, was informed by senior advocate Aabad Ponda that ED’s argument about maintainability of the petition was not valid as the summons did not mention about any scheduled offences. Ponda submitted that there was an abuse of process by ED.
Ponda then referred to Supreme Court judgements which prohibited investigating agencies from summoning anyone for answers and asking them for incriminating material. He added that unlike show-cause notices, there were no provisions against summons; hence he needed to be protected not only against the proceedings arising out of the summons issued by the ED but also future summons.
Khade in the petition stated, “I may not be an accused in the current proceedings qua the ECIR, but the subject matter in the FIR and the ECIR is same and asking me questions which will implicate me in the FIR, will be against my rights under Article 20(3) of the Constitution.”
After hearing the submissions, justice Shinde asked ED, which was represented by additional solicitor general (ASG) Anil Singh, why arrest was necessary when someone was cooperating. “What happens if you take a ground that he is to be arrested?” asked the bench. The bench added that the apprehension was that the arrest would be made without giving him an opportunity to respond to the proceedings against him.
The ASG responded saying that there were separate, independent offences and added that investigation was at a preliminary stage.
Justice Shinde then said that as per previous judgements, the accused was to be informed of the offences before arresting him. ASG Singh replied that the summons were issued as they were yet at the stage of collecting evidence.
Due to paucity of time, the matter has been adjourned to Tuesday.