THE ENFORCEMENT Directorate (ED) has said in its chargesheet that Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut was involved in the redevelopment project in northern Mumbai since its conception, alleging that he had attended meetings related to it in 2006.
Raut, who was arrested on August 1 in connection with a money-laundering case linked to the project, in his statements to the ED denied having any knowledge about the project. He has said in his statement that he learned about the project from news reports in the past two years and has had no involvement in it at any stage.
The ED said Raut through his ‘proxy’, co-accused Pravin Raut, who was the director of Guru Ashish Constructions Pvt Ltd, was directly involved in the project from its conception to execution. “That during 2006-07, Sanjay Raut has attended meetings alongwith MHADA officers and others for redevelopment of Patra Chawl chaired by the then Union Agriculture Minister and another meeting chaired by the former Chief Minister,” according to the ED chargesheet filed last week against Raut, Pravin and others.
Raut said Pravin was known to him only since 2012 and he was not aware about his association with the Patra Chawl project in Goregaon.
The ED said that in 2006, the then union minister had desired a discussion on the redevelopment scheme for the locality of the project and accordingly, the housing department secretary and other officials had participated in a discussion. The ED said Raut along with a developer were also present in the meeting. It said Raut also attended a meeting in 2007 called by the then chief minister to learn about the financial implications of the project.
In 2008, a tripartite agreement was signed between MHADA, Goregaon Siddharth Nagar Sahakari Griha Nirman Sanstha Ltd Co-Op Housing Society and the developer, Guru Ashish. The complaint filed in the case against Pravin and other directors of Guru Ashish, Sarang and Rakesh Wadhawan claims that instead of constructing housing for the displaced residents, money was diverted to the benefit of the accused.
The total amount of Rs 1,039.70 crore was received in the accounts of HDIL and Guru Ashish Constructions of which Rs 112 crore were received by Pravin. The ED said the proceeds of the crime received by Raut are to the tune of over Rs 3 crore. The ED chargesheet alleges that Pravin was “able to liaise with government authorities and obtain approvals” from authorities “due to his closeness with Sanjay Raut”.
The ED also has added statements of multiple witnesses claiming that some of the landowners who sold their land in Kihim in Alibaug were threatened to sell on behalf of Raut.
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Raut’s lawyer Vikrant Sabne said in a judicial order in 2020, the Mumbai police had submitted that there was no objection to the release of Pravin in connection with the scheduled offence in the case and that a closure report could be filed. “This order in favour of Pravin Raut is not yet challenged. Then, the question arises why the arrest was done and why similar relief should not be granted to Mr Sanjay Raut as equality before law is the basis of our legal system,” Sabne said.
The court is likely to hear the bail applications of Raut and Pravin later this week.