MUMBAI: Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil on Wednesday accused the Centre of engaging in vendetta and objected to the questioning of his cabinet colleague Nawab Malik by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case without any notice.
NCP leader and former Rajya Sabha member Majeed Memon said the party will not keep quiet and fight lawfully till the end if the action against Malik is motivated by politics and being carried out with some vengeance and malice, and asked the ED officials not to be their political master's slave.
The ED on Wednesday questioned state Minority Affairs Minister and NCP's chief spokesperson Malik in a money laundering probe linked to the activities of the Mumbai underworld, fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his aides, officials said.
Walse Patil said NCP leaders stand firmly with Malik.
"The Union government has used central agencies with vendetta to target several people. Malik is an honourable minister of the state. It was required to issue him a notice if he is to be investigated in any case," the NCP leader said.
"But, the notice was not served. He was taken from his home early morning to the ED office. This is against democracy and the common man's rights," the state home minister said.
He said it is being seen that whenever central agencies take action, somebody has talked about it earlier either on TV or Twitter.
"This means, it is all done in a pre-decided manner and selectively I am of the opinion that Malik is innocent," he said.
Walse Patil also said the state Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, is not in trouble and will complete its tenure.
Speaking to reporters separately, Memon questioned the timing of the action.
He said the ED was questioning Malik linking the latter to the underworld and in connection with land purchased 17 years ago.
"A 17-year-old matter is being raked up now. I want to ask the ED humbly, what is the basis for opening the case now? The judges will ask you tomorrow that how come you woke up after 17 years? Why did you not probe this in 2005?" he said.
Memon said Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Devendra Fadnavis had talked about the land scam four months ago.
"Why did ED not act for four months? Wasn't the ED aware of this? It was all in public domain," he said.
Memon also asked the ED officials to not be "slaves of their political masters and not a "pawn" in anyone's hands.
"You are the slave of law, justice and the Constitution of India. Don't become a victim of race between political parties," he added.
If the ED thinks Malik is involved in any crime, then it should investigate maintaining secrecy and not publicise the same on TV, the NCP leader said.
"What you are doing is against law and justice. It is violating your own course of investigation. The courts have said many times that the investigation in important matters has to be carried out maintaining secrecy. It need not be publicised. Secrecy is the hallmark of a fair investigation," he said.
Memon also accused BJP leader and former state CM Fadnavis of not getting sleep at night for want of power.
"We have nothing to say if they are doing something legal. But, if they are doing something motivated by politics, if they are doing something with vengeance and malice, then we are the last people to keep quiet," he said.
"Our party will not remain silent if you misuse the law. We will agitate from day one till the end and fight lawfully," he said.
Memon also picked holes in Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's comments where she had rubbished charges against the BJP-led central government of using central agencies against political opponents.
"I want to tell her, Madam, you are holding the finance portfolio. The home ministry should speak about it. I would also ask the home ministry about the misuse of central agencies during the past seven-eight years, especially during the second term of the NDA after 2019," he said.