While hearing the interim protection request of NCP leader Eknath Khadse, Bombay High Court asked the Enforcement Directorate that what heaven are going to fall if the interim protection from any coercive action to the accused is granted for a few more days.
The division bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale stated that judiciary and agencies like RBI, CBI, ED should act independently.
The former state revenue minister and NCP leader had filed a petition seeking to quash the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered by Enforcement Directorate in October last year in connection to an alleged land grab case of 2016.
Advocate Aabad Ponda sought the interim protection against any coercive action against NCP leader Khadse.
Advocate Anil Singh, representing Enforcement Directorate informed the court that ED would not take any action till Monday (January 25).
With adjourning the matter to Monday, the bench expressed the curiosity to know why the ED is insisting on protection to be granted only till Monday. “What heavens are going to fall if the petitioner is given protection for few more days? We are always of the belief that the judiciary and agencies like the RBI, CBI, ED and so on should act independently and impartially. There is a threat to the very democracy if these agencies do not act independently, ” said the court.
Khadse had left Bharatiya Janata Party in October 2020 and joined NCP. He appeared before the court on January 15 to record his statement.
“If somebody is ready to cooperate and honour summons then we ask ourselves what is the need for arrest. At the end of the day, he (Khadse) has cooperated and honoured the summons issued He has appeared for questioning. We can understand if someone is not cooperating,” the court said.
Khadse in his statement submitted that the land was purchased by his wife and son-in-law legally from the owner.
While, in the affidavit filed by the agency on Thursday, it is mentioned that an initial investigation has clearly revealed various evidences showing money laundering in the case.
Enforcement Directorate alleged that the land was purchased at a low rate of Rs 3.75 crore with a criminal intent to later seek compensation from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), which was to acquire the land in future.
“The petitioner (Khadse), using his official position and government machinery, manipulated the actual market price which was more than Rs 31 crore at that time,” the affidavit stated.
The agency stated that the petition seeking to quash the ECIR was premature and therefore should be dismissed.