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"There Is A Threat To Very Democracy If Agencies Like CBI, ED Do Not Act Independently": Bombay High Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
22 Jan 2021 5:15 AM GMT
There Is A Threat To Very Democracy If Agencies Like CBI, ED Do Not Act Independently: Bombay High Court
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The Bombay High Court on Thursday said the judiciary and agencies like the RBI, CBI and ED are considered independent and therefore should act impartially. A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale was hearing a petition filed by Eknath Khadse, seeking to quash an Enforcement Directorate complaint registered against him in October last year. In the interim, Khadse's...

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The Bombay High Court on Thursday said the judiciary and agencies like the RBI, CBI and ED are considered independent and therefore should act impartially.

A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale was hearing a petition filed by Eknath Khadse, seeking to quash an Enforcement Directorate complaint registered against him in October last year.

In the interim, Khadse's counsel Aabad Ponda was seeking protection from any coercive action against his client. He also sought audio-video recording of the interrogation based on the summons issued to him.

The ED's counsel, Anil Singh, told the court that the agency would not take any action till Monday (January 25). He, however, said his statement should not be recorded.

"What heavens are going to fall if the petitioner is given protection for few more days? We have always believed that the judiciary and agencies like the RBI, CBI, ED should act independently and impartially.," Justice Shinde said.

"There is a threat to the very democracy if these agencies do not act independently," the court added.

Justice Shinde asked why was there so much insistence that no interim protection should be granted. "What is the harm making a solemn statement on record? On Monday, what do I tell my lords if he is arrested?"

Justice Shinde said that whenever Singh made a statement, he has abided by it. Singh added that if an order were passed it would set a wrong precedent.

The bench however questioned the need for arrest after Ponda's submissions that Khadse was willing to cooperate with the investigation. "If someone is ready to cooperate and honour the summons, we pose the question to ourselves, what is the reason to arrest ?"

"Co-operation during investigation could be considered if this is an anticipatory bail application, not when he is seeking quashing of the complaint. I have an objection to the maintainability of this petition. The court will then need to make a prima facie observation that no case is made out." Singh argued.

Khadse (68), who quit the BJP and joined the NCP In October 2020, appeared before the ED in Mumbai on January 15 this year to record his statement in the alleged land grab case, pursuant to summons issued against him.

Khadse in his plea claimed the land in question was purchased by his wife and son-in-law from the owner legally and there was no illegality in the procedure.

In reply to Khadse's petition, the ED in its affidavit on Thursday said an initial investigation has clearly revealed various evidences showing money laundering in the case.

The ED claimed the ECIR was registered in October 2020 against Eknath Khadse, his wife Mandakini Khadse and son-in-law Girish Choudhari in the alleged land grab case in Pune, causing a loss of Rs 62 crore to the public exchequer.

According to the agency, 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.

It alleged that Khadse misused his official position as state revenue minister in 2016.

The ED in its affidavit said the court has till date not accepted the closure report and hence, the FIR is not closed.


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