The Bombay High Court on Tuesday rejected a plea by Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik seeking his release from judicial custody after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money-laundering case arising out of a tainted land deal around 20 years ago.
Malik, 62, arrested by the ED on February 23, contended the central agency’s arrest and subsequent remand was “illegal”, without jurisdiction and sought setting aside the order of the Special PMLA Court which sent him to ED custody.
His legal team of Rashmikant & Partners argued that the illegal acts of the ED rendered his continued detention illegal and without jurisdiction, entitling him to a writ of habeas corpus and immediate release.
However, a division bench of Justice P.B. Varale and Justice S.M. Modak, which declined Malik’s plea, said that certain debatable issues are raised and which need to be heard at length.
At the hearings, Malik’s lawyer, senior advocate Amit Desai argued that Malik had implicated in the case which was based on statements by persons with no credibility, and the financial transactions alleged against the Minister ranged from 1999 to 2003 to 2005 when the Prevention of Money Laundering Act did not exist.
Desai reiterated that PMLA was applied retrospectively by arresting Malik in a 22-year-old case and sought his immediate release given the present circumstances of the case.
Opposition the plea, ED’s counsel, Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh questioned the maintainability of Malik’s plea, saying that the remand order was after careful consideration of all material evidence and submissions before the Special PMLA Court, money-laundering was an separate offence on which the Section 45 of the PMLA is applicable, and demanded the plea should be dismissed.
According to the ED, Malik had purchased a property, Goawala Compound in Kurla at a throwaway rate, through the power of attorney holder Sardar Shahawali Khan, currently in jail for the March 12, 1993 serial blasts case, and Salim Patel, a henchman for the late Hasina Parkar, the sister of absconding mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar.
Meanwhile, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has vehemently demanded that Malik should resign from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s ministry or should be sacked.