Sanjeev Palande, ex-personal secretary to former home minister Anil Deshmukh has approached the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the case filed against him by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the alleged money laundering case alleging that it was a politically motivated case and he was falsely being implicated.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the ED, informed the division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar that the agency will file its reply to the petition. The HC has asked the agency to file its affidavit and kept the petition for hearing on September 28.
Palande, an additional collector-rank official, who was working as Deshmukh’s personal secretary, was arrested by the ED on June 26 in the money laundering case. He is presently in judicial custody.
Palande’s counsel Shekhar Jagtap said that apart from seeking quashing of the case, Palande has also challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) under which he has been booked.
According to the petition, the case registered by the ED was “politically motivated” and that the whole case is based on the vague allegations made by dismissed police officer Sachin Waze, who has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Waze has been arrested in the Antilia bomb scare and businessman Mansukh Hiren killing case.
The petition reads: “No case can be made out against the petitioner in connection with the alleged crime, as the allegations are vague and merely based on the baseless allegations made by one Sachin Waze, a tainted official, who is neither a witness nor accused in the case.”
Palande has alleged that he has been booked and arrested only “with an intention to create false evidence against the former home minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh and to disrupt the stability of the state of Maharashtra.”
The petition states that the ED has been acting “arbitrarily and ultra vires to the Constitution of India” and that Palande has not committed any offence and has been falsely implicated.
“The ED lacks jurisdiction for invoking provisions of the Act (PMLA) against the petitioner (Palande) as the predicate offence, on the basis of which the present case is lodged, does not make any allegation against the petitioner,” the petition reads.
Terming the case as baseless and premature, the petition seeks that it be quashed. It added that the present case is nothing but a “malicious prosecution which is politically motivated without any justified cause and/or reason”.
“The petitioner cannot be prosecuted on the statement made by Waze, as he is in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), another agency operating under the Union of India,” adds the petition.
Palande has denied Deshmukh’s involvement in the transfer of police personnel saying that the Chief Minister has control over the same and is done on the recommendation of the Police Establishment Board.
Palande has further said that he has been in government service since 1998 and has an unblemished record.
ED had initiated the probe against Deshmukh and his associates after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed an FIR following a Court-directed enquiry into allegations of corruption and misuse of his official position.
According to ED, Deshmukh, when he was the Home Minister of Maharashtra, misused his position by directing dismissed Mumbai cop Sachin Waze to collect money to the tune of ₹4.7 crore from various restaurants and bars in Mumbai.
It was claimed that Deshmukh had laundered the extorted money to a Nagpur-based trust ‘Shri Sai Shikshan Sansthan’, an educational trust controlled by Deshmukh’s family members.
On June 26, the ED carried out simultaneous raids at residences of Palande and Deshmukh. After the raid, Palande was given a notice under section 50 (Powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence, etc.) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and taken to the ED office. There he was detained the whole day for questioning and was formally arrested the next day, June 26, Sunday at 1:45 am.
Along with Palande, the ED has also arrested one Kundan Shinde (Deshmukh’s personal assistant) – in the case.