THE BOMBAY High Court on Monday dismissed a plea filed by NCP leader and former Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, his wife Mandakini and son-in-law Girish Chaudhari seeking to quash 2017 FIR registered in connection with alleged irregularities in a 2016 land deal case in Pune’s Bhosari.
A division bench of Justices NW Sambre and NR Borkar dismissed the plea and said that a reasoned order will be made available in due course.
The HC in February this year restrained the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) from filing chargesheet against the Khadse family till further orders, the interim relief was extended from time to time. However, due to dismissal of the plea, the same relief stands vacated.
In July, last year, the ACB had told a trial court in Pune that it would probe some ‘new aspects’ brought to its notice by the complainant in the case and thereafter it withdrew the closure report in October, 2022.
The Khadse family had filed a plea seeking that the FIR lodged against them in 2017 be quashed after the Pune Police filed a C-Summary (closure) report in the case. They also challenged the Pune sessions court order that allowed the ACB to continue its probe despite Pune police’s closure report being filed. In April 2017, acting on the directives of the HC, the ACB booked Khadse, Mandakini, Chaudhari and others in connection with allegations made by Pune-based realtor Hemant Gawande.
In his complaint filed at the Bund Garden police station in Pune in May 2016, Gawande alleged that Khadse misused his power as a minister and facilitated purchase of the land in Bhosari, which was at the time owned by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation. The land was purchased in the name of Khadse’s wife and son-in-law for Rs 3.75 crore, as against the market price of Rs 40 crore, Gawande alleged.
Based on the Pune FIR, in October 2020, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) against Khadse, his wife, Chaudhri, and Abbas Ukani, the original owner of the land, for allegedly grabbing the land belonging to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) at Bhosari.
In August, 2021 the ED froze a bank account with a deposit of Rs 86 lakh and attached properties, including a bungalow in Lonavala and three land parcels in Jalgaon, belonging to Khadse’s family. The special court in October, 2021, continued protection from coercive action to Khadse granted by Bombay High Court in ED’s money laundering case, and the same has been continued from time to time till date.