Arrested MP for Shiv Sena, Sanjay Raut, was today taken into custody for four days by the Law Enforcement Directorate in a case of alleged land scam. The investigative agency had requested eight days of custody, but a special court did not agree and granted custody for half the term.
The Sena leader was allowed to eat home-cooked food and medicine under ER custody. Given his illness, the necessary treatment and questioning time should also be taken care of if necessary, the court said.
“In view of the investigation so far and the facts uncovered therein, I have come to the conclusion that the custody of the accused is necessary. But I do not agree to give 8 days of custody therefore, the defendant is granted 4 days of ED custody,” the court said.
The ED brought Mr Raut before Judge MG Deshpande of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Tribunal and requested that he be remanded in custody for eight days.
The ED, represented by Special Prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar, told the court that Mr Raut and his family were the direct beneficiaries of the proceeds of crime.
Mr. Raut was summoned four times, but he only appeared once before the agency. During this time, he attempted to tamper with key evidence and witnesses, the agency’s attorney claimed.
Lead attorney Ashok Mundargi, representing Mr Raut, argued that since the Sena chief is a heart patient, he should not be questioned until late at night. The polling firm responded by saying it normally inquires until 10 p.m.
“This is a patient with heart disease. He also underwent surgery. Documents about this have been presented to the court,” Mundargi said, adding that Mr. Raut was politically motivated.
The ED arrested Mr Raut at midnight on Sunday in connection with alleged financial irregularities in the redevelopment of a ‘chawl’ in Mumbai and related financial real estate dealings involving his wife and alleged associates.
The state government had deployed heavy forces to the Mumbai office of the Law Enforcement Directorate, the hospital where Mr Raut was taken for check-up and the court. About 200 police officers were stationed in these premises to ensure peace.
Before being taken to the courtroom, Mr Raut told the media: “It’s a plot to finish us off”.
Mr. Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, is a key member of the Thackeray team which is caught in a bitter struggle with the Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde. Mr Shinde, now Maharashtra’s chief minister, led the rebellion that toppled the Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government of Sena, Congress and NCP.