The special court that granted the ED three-day custody of arrested Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Monday said while thorough custodial interrogation was necessary, the central agency’s request for eight-day custody was “not warranted”. Special judge MG Deshpande told the prosecution that everything in the Patra Chawl land scam case was already documented and available for investigation and, hence, “prayer for ED custody deserves to be allowed partly”.
The ED produced Raut before the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court amid tight security in the afternoon, following his arrest in the money laundering case related to the redevelopment of the chawl in Mumbai’s northern suburb of Goregaon. The agency had raided his residence early on Sunday.
The court sent Raut to ED custody till August 4, after the ED lawyer’s request for eight-day custody. Deshpande said custodial interrogation was necessary considering “the compass of inquiry and volume of matter”.
He, however, added, “It cannot be ignored that chargesheet has already been filed against Pravin Raut (Sanjay Raut’s close aide) long ago. Everything is already documented and available for prosecution to investigate. Even the trail of money in the accused’s (Sanjay Raut) wife’s bank account can be investigated by obtaining bank statements. Therefore, in my opinion, long ED custody for eight days is not warranted.”
“In order to investigate crime thoroughly, prayer of ED for custody deserves to be allowed partly. Accused is remanded to ED custody till August 4,” Deshpande further said.
Raut’s lawyer, advocate Ashok Mundargi, told the court that his arrest was politically motivated. “He (Raut) is a patient with a heart-related ailment. He had also undergone surgery. Papers related to this have been presented before the court,” he added.
ED lawyer Hiten Venegaonkar, arguing for longer custody, told the court that Raut was summoned four times but only appeared before the agency once. The lawyer argued that during this time, Raut tried to tamper with evidence and key witnesses in the case. He further told the court that the investigation had revealed that Pravin Raut was a frontman for Sanjay Raut.
He also argued that Pravin Raut, ex-director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, did not invest a single penny in the redevelopment project, but received Rs 112 crore. The probe shows that Rs 1.6 crore had been transferred to the bank account of Sanjay and Varsha Raut, and that the Raut family were beneficiaries, he added.
The lawyer said the ED probe showed that out of this Rs 1.6 crore, a plot of land had been bought at Kihim Beach in Alibaug.