Mumbai, December 8
The Mumbai Police on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that they have initiated a preliminary enquiry against former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and his kin on a complaint about alleged disproportionate assets.
Public Prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai informed this to the HC after a division bench of Justices Dheeraj Thakur and Valmiki Menezes reserved its order on a public interest litigation seeking probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the Thackerays for allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income.
The Thackerays sought dismissal of the PIL on the ground that it was filed on assumptions and without any factual foundation.
The petition, filed by behaviour and soft skill consultant and city resident Gauri Bhide, sought a direction to the CBI and the ED to conduct a “thorough and impartial” investigation against Thackeray and his family.
The bench heard the matter briefly in the morning session and closed it for orders.
However, in the afternoon session, Pai mentioned the matter once again to inform the court of the state government’s stand.
“The Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has initiated a preliminary enquiry into the allegations,” Pai told the court.
Uddhav Thackeray’s counsel Aspi Chinoy objected to this and said it was an “abuse of the process of law.” Bhide, before filing the petition, had sent a letter to the Mumbai police commissioner on her allegations.
However, on Thursday, Bhide told the court that she has not been informed about any such enquiry initiated by the police.
“My request is that the central agencies should be directed to conduct a probe,” Bhide told the court.
Senior counsels Chinoy and Ashok Mundargi, appearing for Uddhav Thackeray, his wife Rashmi Thackeray and son Aaditya Thackeray, had argued the PIL was filed on assumptions and without any factual foundation.
“The petition is absolutely bereft of any material and is filed purely on assumptions. The petitioner has an alternate remedy of filing private complaint before a magistrate’s court seeking police probe,” Chinoy argued.
He said Uddhav Thackeray is not in power anymore and, hence, it cannot be alleged he or his family would influence any probe.
Mundargi argued Bhide should have first filed a complaint with the police or a private complaint.
“The high court’s jurisdiction comes only when the alternate remedies have been availed of and no relief has been granted,” Mundargi said, adding the PIL has levelled allegations based on assumptions instead of facts.
Bhide, whose family owned a printing press in Mumbai’s Dadar area, in her PIL said being a sincere and vigilant citizen, she wanted to help the Government of India in “unearthing some more hidden, unaccounted wealth disproportionate to income and also unearth laundered money.” The plea stated Bhide was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fight against corruption and claimed she has evidence to show the Thackeray family accumulated properties and assets illegally.
It further alleged that Uddhav Thackeray and his family never disclosed any particular service, profession and business as their official source of income.
“Yet, we find they have huge properties in a metro city like Mumbai and in Raigad district, which may run into crores,” the plea said.
It also referred to raids conducted by the CBI and the ED on people who are “very very close” to the Thackeray family and claimed it is crystal clear the huge undisclosed properties, cash and other wealth with those persons have a close nexus to the Thackerays.
During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, when the entire print media was facing heavy losses, Thackeray’s company Prabodhan Prakashan Pvt Ltd showed a brilliant performance of Rs 42 crore turnover and Rs 11.5 crore profit, the petition further claimed.
During this period, Uddhav Thackeray was the chief minister and his son Aaditya Thackeray was a cabinet minister, the plea said.
“It seems it is a clear case of turning the black money into white one,” the PIL alleged.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government collapsed in June this year after a revolt in his party.
Most Read In 24 Hours
Don't MissView All
2 others eject safely | Debris strewn across miles | Sukhoi,...
Congress leader will unfurl Tricolour at Lal Chowk City Cent...
Visit comes ahead of NSA chief’s US tour
Sarpanches of Haryana to hold 'chakka jam' against Amit Shah...
9.5 lakh candidates had registered for the exam for 1,181 po...