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Is ED Converting Civil Disputes into Criminal Cases and making illegal arrests?

Mumbai: Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena MP, was recently detained by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in affiliation with a money laundering case, which was recently declared “illegal” and a “witch-hunt” by a Mumbai special court on Wednesday. The court permitted his bail application in connection with the claimed money laundering case. Does this raise the question Is ED Converting Civil Disputes into Criminal Cases and making illegal arrests?

“It is an astonishing admitted fact that main accused Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan of HDIL, who had not only generated over Rs 1,000 crore but also allegedly placed, layered, and integrated the same, were never arrested by the ED.”

-M.G. Deshpande (Judge) 

The court, moreover, questioned why Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan of the real estate firm HDIL, the primary defendants in the case, were never remanded by the ED.  The order was issued by M.G. Deshpande, a special judge for cases involving the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. 

“I hold that both accused are basically arrested illegally. Both of them are entitled to parity in view of the disparity made by the ED in not arresting the main accused persons, Rakesh and Sarang” and other government officials who were “responsible” for the misdeeds of the Wadhawans at the relevant time.”

-M.G. Deshpande (Judge) 

Sanjay Raut, who was arrested on August 1, left jail a few hours after the directive. Praveen Raut, one of his assistants, who was detained in February 2022, was also given bail along with him. The judge also reprimanded the ED, noting that while it captures suspects at a breakneck speed, it does not conduct trials at “even a snail speed.”

ED Adopted Pick-and-choose Policy

A special PMLA court granted bail to Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Wednesday, stating that the ED had misused the unique power of effecting arrest in an “ab initio illegal” way. This power should have been used sparingly. 

In association with alleged irregularities in the rebuilding of Patra Chawl in Goregaon West, Raut was detained in a case involving Rs 1,034 crore of money laundering. Sanjay Raut and his buddy Pravin Raut were not found to have participated in the project “with a purpose to fraudulently deceive and cheat Mhada and 672 inhabitants,” the court ruled.

Justice M.G. Deshpande questioned the claim that the proceeds of the crime were transferred. And it happened due to the ED’s inconsistent positions on the source of the Rs 95 crore provided to Pravin Raut. The court ruled that both of the accused’s unlawful detentions were the result of a “pick and choose technique” in the ruling. 

Judge Questioned His Arresting

According to the court, declaring straightforward civil disputes to be “money laundering” or “an economic wrongdoing” does not automatically confer this status. Sanjay Raut, according to justice M.G. Deshpande, was detained “without cause.”  

“Even at the bail stage, the court has a legal obligation and duty to discover the truth”

-M.G. Deshpande (Judge)

 

Special judge MG Deshpande questioned the “legal need” of arresting Sanjay Raut at midnight in his 122-page ruling. 

According to proof, Sanjay Raut was taken into custody on August 1 at 12:35 a.m. The court observed that on July 31, his home was investigated, and he was prohibited from moving around the entire day. He claimed to have had six heart stents and two angioplasty procedures. So, the judge mentioned the circumstances under which he was being held as well.

 

“He also made a complaint about how he was kept in a room without ventilation. It is only then, due to the court intervention he could get a room with some ventilation in ED custody. All this prima-facie indicates that his arrest is nothing but a witchhunt.”

-M.G. Deshpande (Judge) 

To conclude

Giving Sanjay Raut relief, the court ruled that the twin grounds for granting bail were not relevant in their instance and stated that an innocent individual could not be brought into a dispute under the pretext of money laundering. Justice M.G. Deshpande made it clear that ED is converting civil disputes into criminal cases, which is totally wrong! 

 

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