A special court on Monday sent Amit Chandole, director of Vihang Advertising and an alleged close aide of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, to the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), till Wednesday.
Chandole had filed for bail last week after the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court refused to extend his ED custody in connection with security firm Topsgrup’s money laundering case.
On November 27, the court had sent him to ED custody till November 29. However, the special court refused to extend his custody to the ED on November 29. Since then, Chandole had been in judicial custody.
Maintaining that Chandole had not cooperated with the probe, Special Public Prosecutor Kavita Patil, appearing for the ED, told the court he needs to be questioned on the proceeds of the crime.
This came after the Bombay High Court on Monday morning set aside the special court’s November 29 order refusing to extend Chandole’s ED custody.
A single-judge bench of Justice Prithviraj K Chavan directed the special court to again hear the ED’s remand plea seeking Chandole’s custody at 3 pm and pass a fresh order on Monday.
The HC last Friday had reserved its order on ED’s application seeking further custody of Chandole.
While hearing ED’s revision application, challenging the November 29 (Sunday) order of the special holiday sessions judge, the HC bench observed on Monday, “The holiday judge in the impugned order failed to consider the documents and the material placed by ED before him. It appears that the judge has taken a very casual and perfunctory approach by ignoring that it is not a simple crime but is so enormous and complex, which requires a thorough probe and investigation by the investigating agency in view of the provisions of PMLA.”
“Unless there is free, fair and full investigation of the crime of such a large and colossal magnitude, which could fructify only by a custodial investigation, the learned judge ought to have applied his mind while considering prayer of extending custodial interrogation… Prima facie, it appears that the proceeds of crime exchanged hands from MMRDA, Topsgrup and respondent Amit Chandole,” it added.
The ED case is based on an FIR lodged on a complaint filed by a former employee of Topsgrup, Ramesh Iyer, alleging that the company had cheated the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) of Rs 175 crore. The ED has alleged that some part of the amount paid by MMRDA had gone into Chandole’s private bank accounts.