The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday moved the Bombay High Court seeking cancellation of bail to Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL) promoter Kapil Wadhawan, an accused in a money laundering case involving deceased gangster Iqbal Mirchi, for violating bail conditions and travelling to Mahabaleshwar during lockdown.
A single-judge bench of Justice Prakash D Naik, hearing the plea through video-conferencing, issued a notice to Wadhawan in the matter and posted the matter for further hearing on April 23.
The 46-year-old chairman and managing director of DHFL was arrested on January 27 by the ED for his dubious dealings with gangster Iqbal, who died in 2013. On February 21, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court had granted him bail. As per its conditions, Wadhawan had to appear regularly before the ED for investigation.
Special judge Prashant Rajvaidya had also directed Wadhawan to surrender his passport to the investigation officer and prohibited him from leaving the country without the court’s permission.
In February, Wadhawan had filed a bail plea before the special PMLA court. Senior advocate Amit Desai, appearing for Wadhawan, had then submitted that transactions of DHFL, which ED had cited for his arrest, had no connection with Mirchi’s dealings. The ED had then opposed the bail plea on the ground that Wadhawan might influence the probe. It had also argued that three properties in Worli, belonging to Mirchi, were proceeds of the crime.
The agency had further claimed that Dheeraj Wadhawan, also a promoter of DHFL, had expressed interest in buying the properties. After meetings with Mirchi, it was decided that the properties would be bought by Sunblink Real Estate Private Limited, a company linked to Kapil Wadhawan and his brother Dheeraj Wadhawan.
On April 9, the Wadhawan brothers along with 21 others, including their family members, were put in quarantine at Mahabaleshwar after it came to light that they had travelled to the hill station from Khandala in an alleged breach of the 21-day lockdown imposed to check the spread of coronavirus.
The ED on April 10 issued an order to seize five luxury vehicles in which the family had travelled to their farmhouse. They have been booked under sections of IPC and Disaster Management Act.
Advocate Purnima H Kantharia, appearing for ED, said an application to cancel Kapil Wadhawan’s bail had been filed in March, but had not been pursued due to the nationwide lockdown. The probe agency sought an urgent hearing of the application after the Wadhawan brothers failed to appear before it and left the city leading to an apprehension that they may abscond and flout bail conditions.
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