PMLA case: Justice Karnik recuses from hearing ED’s plea seeking cancellation of Sanjay Raut’s bail

Justice Makarand S Karnik of the Bombay High Court on Friday recused himself from hearing the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut and his alleged associate Pravin Raut in a money laundering case lodged by the central agency.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh mentioned the plea before Justice Karnik and sought an urgent hearing as it was listed at serial number 101 on the daily board and was unlikely to be taken up Friday. However, Justice Karnik recused himself from hearing the ED’s application in the case linked to a redevelopment project in the northern suburbs of Mumbai. The ED is likely to move an alternate bench of the high court seeking further relief.

A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court had granted bail to Raut on November 9 and soon after, the ED filed a petition in the high court seeking cancellation of the bail. The central agency had moved the court for an urgent interim stay on the bail order. The high court on November 9, however, refused to suspend the bail order and cleared the way for Raut’s release from jail.

On November 10, seeking a response from Raut along with the grant of liberty to ED to amend its plea based on findings of the special court, a bench of Justice Bharati Dangre posted further hearing to November 25, Friday. As per the notice of assignments of HC judges, Justice Karnik was assigned to hear pleas pertaining to the cancellation of bail from November 21.

Raut was arrested by the ED on July 31 in connection with the money laundering case. He was summoned for questioning in connection with the redevelopment of Patra Chawl and related transactions involving his wife and “associates”. The Sena leader was arrested on July 31 and after spending eight days in the ED’s custody, he was remanded in judicial custody.

He moved for bail on September 7, claiming that the ED’s case against him was filed to crush the opposition faced by the ruling party. He also contended that the amount shown as proceeds of crime was accounted for and explained. The agency, on the other hand, contended that the offence in the case was regarding Raut’s private gain at the cost of public funds, and added that he played a major role in the offence through his proxy. Raut was granted bail on November 9, and released from jail that evening.

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