Arrested Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut was today sent to four-day custody of the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged land scam case. The probe agency had asked for eight days of custody but a special court did not agree and granted custody for half the duration.
The Sena leader was allowed homemade food and medicine in the ED custody. In view of his illness, the necessary treatment and interrogation time should also be taken care of if needed, the court said.
“In view of the investigation so far and the facts found therein, I have come to the conclusion that the custody of the accused is necessary. But I do not agree to give 8 days’ custody. Hence the accused is given 4 days of ED custody,” the court said.
The ED produced Mr Raut before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court judge MG Deshpande and sought his remand for eight days.
The ED, represented by special public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar, told the court that Mr Raut and his family were direct beneficiaries of the proceeds of crime.
Mr Raut was summoned four times but he appeared before the agency only once. During this, he tried to tamper with the evidence and key witnesses, the agency’s lawyer alleged.
Senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, appearing for Mr Raut, submitted that since the Sena leader is a heart patient, he should not be questioned till late at night. The probe agency responded saying they normally inquire till 10 pm.
“He is a patient with a heart-related ailment. He had also undergone surgery. Papers related to this have been presented before the court,” Mr Mundargi said, adding that Mr Raut’s arrest is politically motivated.
The ED arrested Mr Raut on Sunday midnight in connection with alleged financial irregularities in the redevelopment of a ‘chawl’ in Mumbai and related financial property transactions involving his wife and alleged associates.
The state government had deployed heavy force at the Enforcement Directorate’s Mumbai office, the hospital where Mr Raut was taken for a check-up, and at the court. About 200 police personnel were posted on these premises to ensure peace.
Before he was taken inside the courtroom, Mr Raut told the media, “This is a conspiracy to finish us.”
Mr Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, is a key member of Team Thackeray that is caught in a bitter tussle with the Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde. Mr Shinde, now Maharashtra Chief Minister, led the rebellion that brought down the Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government of Sena, Congress and the NCP.