The Indian Express | 4 days ago | 22-06-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday extended its interim relief till July 12 to Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials and businessman Jitendra Navlani in the central agency’s plea against FIR registered by Maharashtra Police Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) against Navlani and others in extortion and corruption cases.The court extended protection from arrest to ED officials and Navlani till July 12 and posted the matter for further hearing on July 6.The order by a division bench of Justices Nitin M Jamdar and NR Borkar came in response to ED’s plea against the case. The agency had claimed that the ACB had not taken any sanction from the central government under section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which was required to make a central agency official an accused in the case, as well as prior permission from the central government.The police had initiated an inquiry into the allegations of extortion made against some ED officials and one Jeetendra Navlani based on claims in a letter addressed to the Mumbai Police commissioner.Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had earlier this year alleged that Navlani along with three other persons had “extorted Rs 300 crore from Mumbai’s 70 top builders on behalf of Enforcement Directorate officials”, adding that the racket was being run in connivance with certain leaders of the BJP. He had also alleged that ED officials were buying properties in foreign countries and funding BJP candidates with the “extorted money”.Harshal Dattatray Chavan, assistant commissioner of police (ACP), ACB filed an affidavit opposing the ED’s plea. The affidavit stated that ACP Ganesh Kumbhar, who is with the ACB, had lodged a complaint after Sanjay Raut, on April 1, submitted a complaint against Navlani.Raut had alleged that the modus-operandi of Navlani was to get in touch with companies facing inquiries by the ED, the petitioner.Raut had claimed that “Navlani used to promise such companies to exercise either his personal influence or induce the officers to forbear to take action against them and in return would obtain undue advantage in terms of money from such companies and money received by him through his private limited companies”.The affidavit stated, “The total sum of money involved in the 70 instances, as alleged by the complainant, is Rs. 58.9 crores… Verification of the complaint revealed the acceptance of huge amounts by Navlani from private companies under the guise of ‘unsecured loan’ and ‘consultancy fees’ from private companies, either in his own name or in the names of companies owned and controlled by him.”It added, “Substance has been found in allegations made by Raut in his complaint and prima facie commission of cognizable offence by Navlani is disclosed. After registration of offence, Navlani, who is named as accused in the FIR, has not made himself available for the purpose of investigation and his advocates are giving the excuse that he has gone to London for the purpose of medical treatment.”Chavan added that since no ED official is named as an accused in the FIR, a plea filed by ED is not maintainable and the same is premature and misconceived.The police also said that ED’s plea seeking transfer of probe to an independent investigating agency such as the CBI to ensure impartial investigation cannot be entertained as the HC has to first ascertain whether there is sufficient material to come to a prima facie conclusion that there is a need for such an enquiry, and the same has not been provided by the petitioner agency. The police sought dismissal of the ED’s plea.
APART FROM its impact on various governance-related issues, the rebellion in the Shiv Sena that could lead to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state will also have a bearing on the impending choice of the Mumbai Police Commissioner. The term of the incumbent Commissioner Sanjay Pandey ends on Thursday and the chances of an extension to him, which has to be given by the central government, are slim in the current circumstances.Sources said that the government, which currently has its hands tied up with the prevailing political situation, may end up giving the additional charge for the post to a serving official if it cannot make up its mind about Pandey’s replacement. A government official said, “While there are frontrunners to the post, the change in the political situation has made the issue all the more complex. Powerful politicians like Eknath Shinde who would have had a say in pushing someone’s name forward will no longer be in contention.” The official added, “In the current climate, where law and order can be an issue especially when the rebel MLAs come to the city in case of a floor test, the MVA government will be all the more careful about whom it wants to give the reins of the police force. In the changed dynamics, they may also go in for giving another officer the additional charge in the meantime.” Sources said that in the past, when the Commissioner had been away, additional charge was given to the senior-most joint commissioner in the city. In the current scenario, Vishwas Nangre Patil, the Joint Commissioner (law & order), and Rajwardhan, Joint Commissioner (traffic), both from the 1997 batch, are the senior-most officers in the city.Prior to the rebellion, Thane Police Commissioner Jai Jeet Singh and Vivek Phansalkar, Director General-Police Housing, were seen as frontrunners for the post of the Mumbai Police Commissioner. Sources said that if the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government remains in power, it is Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar who will weigh in on the choice of the Mumbai Police Commissioner.
A number of MLAs who flew to Guwahati to join the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena had to pack their bags in great hurry. They were all taken to Surat via Palghar and then flown to Assam capital. In the rush, many of them forgot to carry along necessities such as night clothes, shaving kits and cellphone chargers. Sources in Shinde camp said that the local BJP unit in Guwahati was sent to the market to buy these items, including undergarments, for the MLAs.Naming ideasWith the Shiv Sena alleging that agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) were being used to break the MVA government apart, and that rebel leader Eknath Shinde and leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis are likely to head a BJP government next, a leader of the Sena has started referring to it as “ED government” with E standing for Eknath and D for Devendra.Staying in touchA number of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs have created their own WhatsApp groups of supporters and workers in their constituencies as a way to communicate with their support base. Post the rebellion when many MLAs went incommunicado after shifting to Guwahati, these WhatsApp groups have become their sounding boards with these leaders receiving brickbats as well as bouquet emojis for their act.‘What a hotel!’Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Shahji Bapu Patil’s gushing description of the surroundings of the place in which he is presently putting up in Guwahati has led to a virtual meme fest on social media. In an audio clip of Patil’s conversation with one of his supporters after the rebellion, the leader is heard exclaiming “Kay Jhadi, Kay Dongar, Kay Hotel” (What trees, what mountains, what a hotel!). The utterances by the first-time MLA from Sangola has led to a number of memes, and a swipe from the Shiv Sena which remarked that Patil can see beautiful trees, mountains and hotels in Maharashtra as well.(Contributed by: Yogesh Naik and Zeeshan Shaikh)
Mumbai: Maharashtra’s political crisis has further deepened as the rebel MLA Eknath Shinde’s camp on Sunday went to the Supreme Court, filing an appeal against the Shiv Sena’s move to disqualify him and 15 other MLAs. The top court is likely to hear the matter on Monday. Apart from this, the Shinde camp has also challenged the appointment of Ajay Choudhari as the Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader and the rejection of the no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Narahari Zirwal.Also Read - Radisson Blu Guwahati, Rebel Maharashtra MLAs' New Camp, Closes Fresh Bookings Till June 30. Deets InsideMeanwhile, Eknath Shinde tweeted, “How can Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena support people who had a direct connection with the culprits of the Mumbai bomb blast, Dawood Ibrahim, and those responsible for taking the lives of innocent people of Mumbai? That’s why we took such a step, it’s better to die.” Also Read - Maharashtra Crisis: Shinde Camp Moves SC Against Disqualification Notice, Matter Likely to be Heard Today | Key PointsOne to two more MLAs will come and join us. With their support and other independents, our strength will be increased to 51. We will arrive at a decision in 3-4 days and thereafter we will directly go back to Maharashtra, said Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar. Also Read - Say Trek? Not Mountains But Forts! Hike To History This Monsoon And Triumph These Thrilling Fort Treks In MaharashtraMaharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari writes to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla regarding the security of MLAs (of Shinde Camp) and requested that adequate provision of Central Security forces be made and kept ready, in case required, to address the situation.Aaditya Thackeray said, “On May 20, CM Uddhav Thackeray called Eknath Shinde and asked him to become CM if he wanted to become so, but at that time, he did drama and started weeping. Just a month after, he broke into rebellion. But they (Shinde faction) aren’t capable of doing so, so this isn’t rebellion, this is separatism. They took undue advantage of CM Uddhav Thackeray’s ill-health to do all of this.”Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “40 MLAs in Guwahati are living corpses, their souls are dead. Their bodies will be sent directly to the Assembly for post-mortem when they come back. They know what can happen in the fire that has been lit here.”Maharashtra Minister of Higher & Technical Education Uday Samant reached Guwahati in Assam and joined Eknath Shinde camp.NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, “Eknath Shinde and other MLAs were there with the NCP in the govt. They didn’t have any problems in the last 2.5 years. Why does it happen today only? It’s just an excuse. We will support CM Uddhav Thackeray till the last minute. Eknath Shinde and other MLAs who’ve gone with him to Guwahati have said to form a new alliance, but NCP and Congress policy is clear to support the coalition govt that we had formed. MVA govt is there (in Maharashtra) and we want to continue supporting it.”
Further deepening the crisis for the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, another Maharashtra minister, Uday Samant, on Sunday reached Guwahati and joined the dissident camp of MLAs led by his cabinet colleague Eknath Shinde. Samant, who went incommunicado during the day, reached Guwahati from Surat. He came aboard a chartered flight and landed at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport here along with three others, sources said. Samant's convoy, escorted by Assam Police, was seen entering the Radisson Blu Hotel off NH-37. So far, Maharashtra cabinet ministers Gulabrao Patil, Dada Bhuse, Sandipan Bhumre, and ministers of state Shamburaje Desai and Abdul Sattar have joined the rebel camp. Another minister, Bachu Kadu of Prahar Janshakti Party, and an Independent minister from Sena quota, Rajendra Yedravkar, have also been camping with Shinde. Dissident legislators of Shiv Sena, which heads the ruling coalition, have been camping in Guwahati, around 2,700 km away from Mumbai, since June 22. A group of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, led by Shinde, were taken to Surat from Mumbai on June 21 and then flown to Guwahati the next day. Since then, several chartered flights carrying dissident MLAs have landed at LGBI Airport. The Maharashtra Legislature Secretariat on Saturday issued summonses to 16 of the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, including Shinde, seeking written replies by the evening of June 27 to the complaints seeking their disqualification. The MLAs, after receiving the notices, have been huddling inside the hotel since Sunday morning, discussing various options to respond to the notices, sources said.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s fresh salvo at the rebel party MLAs camping at a Guwahati hotel, on Sunday, calling them living corpses who would be sent to a mortuary for post-mortem on their return from the Assam capital, received flak from the Opposition and the Eknath Shinde camp, which termed it as a death threat to the rebels.“When they step out of Assam, they won’t be alive at heart. They know what can happen in the fire which has been lit here now. The dead bodies of all these 40 MLAs will come to Mumbai (from Guwahati), we will directly send them to the mortuary for post-mortem,” Raut said at a rally of Shiv Sena workers in Dahisar on Sunday.Calling the rebels buffaloes, the Sena MP said, “There is a temple in Guwahati where buffaloes are sacrificed. These 40 buffaloes have gone there to be sacrificed.”Deepak Kesarkar, the spokesperson for the rebel Shinde Camp objected to Raut’s choice of language and his statement that the MLAs have many fathers, saying that “there is too much outrage in the rebels”.“He is insulting women in our families and it won’t be tolerated. He is saying anything he wants and damaging the party. No party should have a spokesperson like Sanjay Raut. He is on a mission to finish the party. It is because of his statements that all the MLAs are angry and more are joining us,” Kesarkar said.“He has called us corpses. He should remember that it was on our votes that he became an MP earlier this month. He has also called us animals. If we are animals and corpses then he should have some self-esteem and resign as MP. He should contest the polls afresh. He needs votes of only 41 MLAs, let’s see from where he gets it. It’s said that a Rajya Sabha member is speaking like this. He is the chief spokesperson of Shiv Sena. We are very much part of the Sena. On what basis are we being targeted by the Sena? We are challenging the decisions to disqualify our members and leader Eknath Shinde,” he added.He said that the rebel camp currently has 39 Sena MLAs and 12 Independents on its side and if Raut continues to speak like this, more will join in the coming days.Bharat Gogawale, the chief whip of the Shinde camp said, “Party members are joining us as they are upset with Raut’s statements and language. The more he speaks, the more will be the members joining us. He is damaging our party.”The BJP, too, came down heavily on the Sena MP on social media, claiming that it was a threat to kill the rebel MLAs once they return to Mumbai.Facing a backlash over his remark, Raut issued a clarification later in the day, saying that his statement should not be taken in its literal sense as what he meant was that the rebel MLAs have lost their souls after betraying the party and are living corpses whose post-mortem will be conducted at Vidhan Bhavan (during a floor test).“There is nothing controversial in my statement. One must understand my speech. What I said is that those MLAs who are in Guwahati are like living corpses, their souls are dead. What is a body worth when the soul is dead? These living corpses will come to Mumbai and we will send them to Vidhan Bhavan for post-mortem. This is what I said. What is wrong in it?” Raut said.