Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali on Wednesday failed to appear before Enforcement Directorate (ED) citing health issues, after the agency had issued summons to her, asking her to appear before them today. In a communication submitted to ED through her lawyer, Gawali had stated that she is suffering from Chikungunya. In her communication, Gawali also stated that the allegations and subsequent proceedings are actuated with malice. Along with her communication, Gawali had also submitted her medical documents. ED had issued summons to Gawali, asking her to appear on October 20 in connection with a money laundering case probed by the agency.
In her communication to the ED, Gawali stated, "I am a law abiding citizen and you shall not find me evading or avoiding any process of law at any point or time. I am sanguine to expose the falsity, hollowness and lack of substance in the allegations levelled against me. At present I am suffering from Chikungunya virus, thus it may not be prudent or desirable to appear in person today. I am at your disposal through any audio-visual mode of interaction at any time convenient to the ED."
"Since she (Gawali) is suffering from Chikungunya and is not in a condition to appear before ED today, we had sought 15 days deferment which has been granted by the ED," Gawali's legal representative advocate Inderpal Singh told FPJ.
On the basis of an FIR registered by the Risod Police Station in Washim in May 2020, the ED had registered an ECIR. The FIR was registered by Gawali, chairperson of MUP. The allegation in the said FIR had stated that one Ashok Gandule and other persons have connived and conspired to misappropriate funds belonging to MUP amounting to Rs 18.18 crores.
The ED had last month arrested Gawali's close associate Saeed Khan in the said case. The agency in its remand application, while seeking Khan's custody from the court, had alleged, "During the course of investigation, it has been revealed that the Trust MUP filed for conversion into a company by the alleged fraudulent forgery of signatures of the management and documents from public institutions. A total assets of Rs 69 crore in book value were transferred to the newly formed company, which was incorporated in January 2020. The directors of this company are Saeed Khan and Gawali's mother Shalinitai. It is stated that Gawali, through her aide Saeed Khan and his accomplices have criminally conspired to convert the Trust MUP into a company through forgery and fraud."
In August, the ED had carried out searches at multiple locations in Washim district in connection with the case. At least seven premises linked to Gawali were searched under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). One of the searched places was the trust's office in Washim's Risod area.
In July, social activist Harish Sharada had filed a petition before the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court against Bhavana Gawali and others, alleging misappropriation of public funds and embezzlement by misusing powers in obtaining grants and funds with respect to Shri Balaji Sahakari Particle Board Karkhana at Risod. Sharada also complained to the ED and requested a probe into the matter.