Bombay HC reserves judgement in ED’s plea for custody of alleged aide of Sena MLA
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday reserved its judgement on the application by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against a special court order which denied them further custody of Amit Chandole, the alleged close aide of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, in connection with a money laundering case.
ED submitted that they had interrogated Chandole for three days, but as he had allegedly diverted funds collected through money laundering overseas, the time was insufficient to ascertain where the funds were diverted. In view of this, the agency claimed that the special court’s refusal to extend his custody was erroneous and should be set aside.
Chandole’s counsel opposed the application stating that as ED had failed to find any incriminating evidence against him, the special court’s decision was justified and hence the application should be dismissed.
A single-judge bench of justice Prithviraj K Chavan, while hearing ED’s revision application which challenged the November 29 order of a special holiday sessions judge, was informed by additional solicitor general (ASG) Anil Singh, representing ED, that the investigating agency had got a three-day custody of Chandole on November 27 and applied for an extension on November 29 which was rejected.
Singh submitted that Chandole has an arrangement with Tops Group whereby whatever money was collected by them was shared and that Chandole had diverted his share overseas. He added that ED wanted extension of custody to know where the money was shifted.
The case against Chandole was registered based on an October 15 complaint by Ramesh Iyer, a former employee of Tops Security Group. Iyer has alleged that Chandole was the beneficiary of a 2014 contract between Tops group and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The contract was for supply of security guards, and some part of the amount paid by MMRDA went to private accounts of Chandole.
Singh further submitted that they had seized Chandole’s income tax returns and the agency needed to investigate the money laundering case. He further submitted that the central agency had to prove through a large number of bank records, computers, proceeds of crime, data and paperwork, including the contract between MMRDA about Chandole’s involvement in the case, and the same could not be interrogated within three days.
However, advocate Rizwan Merchant, appearing for Chandole said ED was trying to get to Sarnaik through Chandole. Merchant submitted that the order passed by the session judge was a reasoned one as ED had failed to place any documentary evidence on record.
After hearing the submissions, the court reserved its order and the same is expected to be passed in due course.
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