Mumbai: A special court here on Monday sent Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut to the custody of Enforcement Directorate for 3 days, till Thursday, in a money laundering case arising out of the Patra Chawl land scam.
Special PMLA court judge M.G. Deshpande pronounced the order as Raut was produced before it, hours after he was arrested by the ED here early this morning.
While ED’s special counsel Hiten Venegaonkar sought 8 days custody, Raut’s lawyer, senior counsel Ashok Mundargi opposed it on various grounds including the health problems of his client who was a cardiac patient.
Venegaonkar argued that Raut was not cooperating with the investigations and hence his custodial interrogation was necessary and the agency wanted to probe other aspects of the Patra Chawl scam and related issues.
He contended that co-accused Pravin Raut was merely a front-man and all deals pertaining to the Patra Chawl scam were perpetrated by Sanjay Raut.
Opposing the ED’s contentions, Mundargi said that Raut’s arrest was politically motivated and pleaded for minimum custody for his client.
“He is a patient, suffering from heart-related issues and has undergone surgery, and all medical papers pertaining to this have been submitted to the court,” he said.
Venegaonkar claimed that Pravin Raut has received Rs 112 crore from HDIL in which Rs 1.6 crore was transferred to Sanjay Raut, which needs to be probed.
He also argued that Pravin Raut acted as the front-man of Sanjay Raut even in the purchase of lands in Alibaug, and Raigad, and the duo were close to each other and went on several foreign tours, etc.
The ED further alleged that Raut had threatened one of the witnesses (a woman), appeared once for probe and skipped two other summonses, and he was not cooperating with the investigators.
In response, Mundargi said that the allegations listed in the remand application are vague and stem from a political vendetta as the case dates back to 2018 but is being raised now owing to the changed political scenario.
On the ED’s contentions of non-cooperation, Mundargi said Raut had already informed the ED that he was involved in elections, he was in New Delhi, and not running away from the probe as he was attending Parliament.
After hearing both sides, Special Judge Deshpande turned down the ED’s plea for 8 days custody, and noted that custody till August 4 would be sufficient.
“I am of the opinion that such a long custody of 8 days is not warranted… I am of the opinion that accused (Raut) is remanded to ED custody up to August 4 that will suffice for investigations,” he said.
Taking cognisance of Raut’s heart disease and his surgery, the court said that during custody, he may be given some rest instead of interrogating him till late night.
It has also allowed Raut to meet his legal team in the mornings and the ED will not interrogate him after 10 p.m. in view of his health status.
The ED is probing alleged money-laundering that was detected in the redevelopment of the Patra Chawl by HDIL subsidiary, Guru Ashish Constructions Pvt Ltd.
While Pravin Raut, an ex-Director in the Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, was arrested earlier, the ED also attached his properties and assets belonging to Sanjay Raut’s wife Varsha, valued at over Rs 11 crore, in April.
On July 1, the ED had summoned and questioned Sanjay Raut for over 10 hours and then called him again on three occasions, but he had sought time till August 7.
The ED raided Raut’s Bhandup bungalow at dawn on July 31, and he was questioned for over nine hours.
Later, he was taken under detention to the agency offices where he was again grilled for over 7 hours before he was placed under arrest.