No proof to link Sanjay Raut to Patra Chawl scam: Lawyer; court adjourns bail hearing to Oct 10

The ED probe pertains to alleged financial irregularities in the redevelopment of Patra Chawl and related financial property transactions involving his wife and alleged associates.

Published: 27th September 2022 10:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2022 10:34 PM   |  A+A-

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MUMBAI: There was no evidence on record to link Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut to alleged irregularities in the redevelopment of Patra Chawl in suburban Mumbai, his lawyer on Tuesday told a special court.

The special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court heard the arguments of Sanjay Raut's lawyer Ashok Mundargi and adjourned hearing on the politician's bail plea to October 10 after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) ED sought time to make its submission.

The Rajya Sabha member was arrested in August in connection with the money laundering case pertaining to the redevelopment of Patra Chawl (a chawl is a row of old tenements).

Earlier this month, the Sena leader sought bail from the special PMLA court.

The ED probe pertains to alleged financial irregularities in the redevelopment of Patra Chawl and related financial property transactions involving his wife and alleged associates.

Siddharth Nagar, popularly known as Patra Chawl, is an area located in Goregaon, a northern Mumbai suburb. It housed nearly 672 homes spread over 47 acres of land.

In 2008, the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) handed over the project of redeveloping the chawl to Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd (GACPL), a sister company of HDIL (Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd).

GACPL was supposed to build 672 flats for people there and develop flats for MHADA and sell the remaining land to private developers for GACPL's own development works.

The company neither redeveloped Patra Chawl nor constructed flats that had to be handed over to MHADA and instead sold land parcels and the Floor Space Index (FSI) to other builders for Rs 1,034 crore, according to the prosecution.

FSI is the maximum permissible floor area that a builder can build on a particular plot/piece of land.

The company launched its own project called the 'Meadows' and took a booking amount of Rs 138 crore from flat buyers.

The ED has claimed Pravin Raut, a close associate of Sanjay Raut, and other directors of Guru Ashish Constructions misled MHADA, the Maharashtra government and sold the FSI to other developers and never completed the project they were handed over.

Pravin Raut, also an accused in the case, was one of the directors of the firm along with HDIL promoters Sarang and Rakesh Wadhawan.

Making his submissions before the court on Tuesday, Raut's lawyer said there was nothing on record to even remotely suggest Sanjay Raut was instrumental in showing or giving any favours to either Pravin Raut or to GACL or to the Patral Chawl redevelopment project at any point in time.

Mundargi argued that for all the funds (alleged proceeds of crime) shown by the ED, it must establish a link between the amount received and the favours done.

"When there is a common ground of friendly relations, then mere giving of money would not amount to sharing of the proceeds of crime, because the main component of knowledge is absolutely absent in these transactions," Mundargi said.

The lawyer argued that the veracity of statements of witnesses who have changed their stand needs to be checked for the purpose of deciding the bail.

Witnesses have earlier (in statements to police) said no money was given over and above the cheque transactions, but suddenly after 6-7 months they have changed their stand (in statements to ED ) and have stated that cash amount was paid over and above the cheques, he submitted.

"These about turns have to be seen with a pinch of salt. the veracity will have to be checked for the limited purpose of bail. When it is a statement that has changed within six months. I would request the court to not rely on it," he said.

The advocate argued that the claim that Sanjay Raut's alleged frontman, Pravin Raut, received more money than the politician "defies logic".

"Earlier, Rs 1.06 crore was shown as the amount given to Sanjay Raut by Pravin Raut. This amounts to less than 0.1% of the total proceeds of crime (POC). But thousands of crores were received by Sanjay Raut's frontman (Pravin Raut)! This defies logic," Mundargi said.

He added that the ED had later increased the amount.

The lawyer said the fact remains Sanjay Raut had no stake in Patra Chawl and he was not connected with its redevelopment.

"There was no connection between the transactions and the predicate offence (money laundering) and so Sanjay Raut is entitled to bail," he submitted.

The court adjourned the matter to October 10 after the ED sought time for making its submission on the bail plea.


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