Sanjay Raut was sent into Enforcement Directorate's custody till August 4 on Monday after the Shiv Sena MP was produced in front of a special court in Mumbai. The 60-year-old politician, a close aide of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, was arrested after over six hours of questioning at the ED zonal office in south Mumbai's Ballard Estate shortly after Sunday midnight. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and his family received "proceeds of crime" worth over Rs 1 one crore generated out of alleged irregularities in a housing redevelopment project in Mumbai, ED told a special court. The ED made this claim while seeking Sanjay Raut's custody in a money laundering case pertaining to irregularities in the redevelopment of Patra 'Chawl' (old row tenement) in suburban Goregaon and related financial property transactions involving his wife and alleged associates. Sanjay Raut, however, claimed the allegations against him were “vague” and raised out of “political vendetta”.
Here are 10 developments from today:
- The federal probe agency produced him before the special PMLA court here and sought his custody for eight days. However, the Judge, after hearing defence and prosecution arguments, said "A long custody for eight days is not warranted.
- The ED, represented by special public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar, told the court Sanjay Raut and his family were direct beneficiaries of the "proceeds of crime". Giving an account of the probe carried out until now, the ED told the court that 47 acres of land at Patra Chawl belongs to MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority) and there were 672 tenants at the said plot. A chawl is a group of one or two-room dwelling units along a corridor, sharing sanitary facilities.
- The financial fraud probe agency said various permissions/approvals for the redevelopment and additional FSIs were obtained by Guru Ashish Constructions (previously arrested accused Pravin Raut, a businessman, was one of the directors of the real estate firm) for the project. This led to the generation of proceeds of crime (POC) of Rs 1039.79 crore between 2010 and 2014.
- Pravin Raut, who has already been charge-sheeted in the case, acted as a proxy of Sanjay Raut and liaised with authorities in obtaining permissions/clearance etc from time to time, which is the primary reason for generation of the ill-gotten money, the probe agency said. The ED alleged Sanjay Raut threatened land owners and asked them to sell their land situated at Kihim beach to him.
- Further, he also threatened witnesses who have deposed before the probe agency.
- The probe agency submitted the parliamentarian did not comply with summons, issued on July 20 and 27, asking him to join investigation. During this period, he threatened a key female witness asking her not to take his name before the ED and further to state that her previous statements were under threat and pressure. Failure to do so may “result in her rape and murder”, the probe agency claimed in the remand plea. It said Sanjay Raut and Pravin Raut have played a key role in the execution of illegal transactions and actively participated in siphoning proceeds of crime.
- However, senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, appearing for Sanjay Raut, said these are old complaints made many years ago and are being racked up now due to “change of atmosphere”. The lawyer said all the allegations mentioned in the remand plea were “vague” and were in the nature of “may be and might be" . Sum and substance of these allegations is nothing but just a “political vendetta”, Mundargi said.
- As Raut fought a court battle to clear his name in the case, Thackeray drove to his close aide's residence in suburban Bhandup and met his family members. At the Sena MP's residence, the former chief minister, who lost power in late June after a revolt in his party, met with his mother, wife, daughters and other family members. Later, at a press conference, Thackeray described Raut as a “close friend” and addressed him by his first name. He also hailed him as a "hardcore Shiv Sainik" who did not succumb to pressure.
- Earlier in the day, Raut's brother and party MLA Sunil Raut had told news agency PTI that Thackeray is firmly behind the family of the arrested leader. Thackeray accused the BJP of conspiring to finish off regional outfits. Targeting the BJP over the arrest of Raut, the Sena president asked where democracy existed if probe agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation, the ED and the Income Tax department are used against political opponents.
- However, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis rejected claims of vendetta politics and maintained the ED action against Raut seems to be based on "certain proofs". "The ED is a national probe agency. It must have taken action against Raut based on documents and proofs. I would not comment on this issue further. His arrest and other related issues will be discussed in the court,” said Fadnavis.
(with PTI inputs)