The Bombay High Court on Monday quashed and set aside the order of a sessions court which rejected the Enforcement Directorate’s plea for extension of remand of Amit Chandole, an alleged associate of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, arrested in a money laundering case.
Mr Sarnaik is also an accused in the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
A sessions court on November 29 rejected the plea of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for extension of remand of Chandole, who was arrested the agency on November 25.
The ED is probing Mr Chandole’s role and alleged suspect dealings with Sarnaik and a private firm providing security services.
On Monday, Justice Prithviraj K Chavan of Bombay HC directed the special PMLA court in the city to reconsider the ED’s prayer for further custody of Chandole and pass appropriate orders by the end of the day.
Justice Chavan directed all parties in the case to appear before the special court at 3 pm on Monday for the reconsideration of the ED”s plea.
On Friday, Justice Chavan had reserved his order following extensive arguments by ED’s counsel Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, and Mr Chandole’s counsel Rizwan Merchant.
Additional Solicitor General Singh had then told the HC that the special court that rejected the ED’s plea during a holiday session on November 29 (Sunday) had erred in doing so, and the order denying further custody of Mr Chandole was erroneous and bad in law.
He had said that the ED was required to sift through voluminous bank records, data, and paper work, including data from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to confront Chandole.
The same would take time and therefore, his further custody was essential, Singh had said.
Advocate Rizwan Merchant had told the HC that the special sessions court followed due procedure in rejecting the ED”s request for further custody of Chandole, since the agency had failed to place on record adequate documentary evidence and grounds to show Mr Chandole”s involvement in the case.
Mr Merchant had also said that the ED was insisting on Mr Chandole”s custody only to nail Sarnaik. Additional Solicitor General Singh, however, had argued that Chandole was an accused in a case of PMLA, a serious offence that constituted an “organised attempt to disturb the country’s economy”.
He had urged the court to grant Mr Chandole’s custody for
at least five or six days.
Earlier, Chandole was in the ED’s custody and was produced before the special PMLA court on November 29. The sessions judge had then sent Chandole in judicial custody till December 9.
The case against Mr Chandole and Sarnaik relates to a complaint lodged by an ex-employee Ramesh Iyyer of private security firm, Tops Security Group.
Iyyer alleged that in 2014, in a contract with MMRDA for supply of 350 to 500 guards, the security firm had given only 70 per cent guards and some amount of the amount paid by MMRDA went to private accounts of the accused.