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ED attaches shares of Gardens Galleria in PMLA case

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 The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached 40 per cent share of the Hotel Project (1,40,000 Sq. Ft. FSI Space) within the Commercial Centre, Gardens Galleria, Noida.

The ED said that the attached asset was owned by Unitech Ranchero Services Limited, Cyprus which was an alleged benami overseas company of Chandras, Promoter of Unitech Group and the value of attached asset Rs 65.32 crore.

“Investigation by ED revealed that Unitech Group had invested the Proceeds of Crime to the tune of USD 8 million through a benami company Ranchero Services Limited, Cyprus into Unitech Hotels Private Limited in the year 2007- 2008. Investigation revealed that Ranchero Services Limited, Cyprus is owned by Chandras and was being managed through an overseas trust on their behalf,” the central agency said.

During investigation, the ED had arrested five individuals — Sanjay Chandra, Ajay Chandra, Ramesh Chandra, Preeti Chandra and Rajesh Malik.

As of now, the ED has filed two charge sheets in the matter. The special PMLA court has taken cognisance in both the matters.

“Various domestic and overseas assets having a total value of Rs 1132.55 crore have been attached in the matter,” said the official.

It includes the attachment of assets of Carnoustie Group, Shivalik Group, Trikar Group and the assets of Shell, Benami and personal companies of Chandras etc. Total proceeds of crime of more than Rs 6,500 crore has been detected till now in this case.

Further investigation in the matter is on.

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SC: Opportunity must be given to borrowers before banks declare their account as fraud

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The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that an opportunity must be given to an account holder to be heard, before the borrower or account is declared fraud.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud affirmed the order passed by Telangana High Court and set aside the contrary view taken by the Gujarat High Court.

The bench said decision classifying borrower accounts as fraudulent must be with reasoned order and further added that debarring borrowers from accessing institutional finances causes severe impact on borrowers and is similar to blacklisting of borrowers, which impacts credit score.

It held that the principles of “audi alterm partem” must be read into the circular issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the classification of bank accounts as fraud.

The bench stressed that opportunity of hearing must be granted for the borrowers under the master directions on fraud.

The judgment in the matter will be uploaded later in the day.

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Bombay HC asks SP MLA Rais Shaikh to convert his plea against Maharashtra’s inter-faith marriage panel into PIL

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday permitted Samajwadi Party Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Rais Shaikh to convert his petition challenging the decision of the Maharashtra government to set up an Inter-Faith Marriage Family Coordination Committee before a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice into a public interest litigation (PIL). 

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale noted that the petition seemed to be in the nature of a PIL and hence the petitioner (Shaikh) could convert the same into a PIL. 

The bench said petitioner should take up matter in appropriate manner

The bench noted, “Other than the name and address of the petitioner, there is no statement of fact about the petitioner. The petitioner is not concerned with the subject matter. He may have public interest but then it is open to him to take it up in an appropriate manner.” 

During the hearing on Monday, the judges wondered how the petition was circulated in the media even before it could be taken up by the HC. “How is it that, even before we have seen this petition, every media person has seen it? If you want to test this in the media forum, then don’t waste our time. Every media forum has seen this. If you want them to decide, we couldn’t care less,” said Justice Patel. 

Maharashtra govt issued GR on December 13 on inter-faith marriage panel

The Maharashtra Government issued the GR on December 13, 2022 following the gruesome murder of Shraddha Walkar in Delhi allegedly by her inter-faith live-in partner. The committee is meant to provide a platform to ‘counsel, communicate and resolve’ issues between couples and families. The committee comprising 13 members is to be headed by Women and Child Development Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha.

SP MLA contested that the panel is attempt to discourage/ forbid interfaith marriages

The SP MLA filed a petition last week alleging that the GR is the government’s attempt “to discourage and/or forbid inter-faith marriages and is essentially a pre-cursor to laws related to purported love jihad marriages which has been stayed in numerous States of India.”

Shaikh alleged the GR was an attempt by the government to discourage and forbid inter-faith marriages and is a precursor to laws related to alleged ‘love jihad’ marriages

The plea seeks that the state government be directed to withdraw the said GR and declare that the same is in violation of the provisions of the Special Marriage Act. 

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Bombay High Court grants interim protection to NCP MLA Hasan Mushrif for two weeks in ED case

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted interim protection to former minister and NCP MLA Hasan Mushrif for two weeks and meanwhile asked him to approach the special court seeking pre-arrest bail in the alleged money laundering case related to a sugar mill.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Mushrif seeking quashing of the ECIR (akin to a First Information Report) registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against his three sons officially related to the Sar Senapati Santaji Ghorpade Sugar Factory Ltd.


Judges say all contentions on merits open

While asking Mushrif to approach the special court, a bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Sharmila Deshmukh has asked the special judge hearing cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to hear his plea, if filed, at the earliest. “Petition is filed. No coercive action is sought. The petitioner to approach the trial court. We protect him for two weeks,” noted the bench in its order. The judges said they have kept all contentions on merits open and posted Mushrif’s plea seeking quashing of the case after four weeks.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Mushrif’s Advocates Aabad Ponda and Prashant Patil argued that the HC, on May 2, 2022, stayed the special court order initiating criminal proceedings in a cheating case registered in Kolhapur. The matter was considered a predicate offence; meaning it was a part of the money laundering case.

Mushrif premises searched on March 11

The counsels argued that Mushrif premises were searched on March 11, a day after the HC granted him relief. On March 10, the HC, directed that no coercive action be taken against Mushrif in the Kolhapur case till further order. The court also remarked that there was a “deliberate attempt” to take action against him in the ED cases.

The judges asked Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the ED, whether the central agency intends to arrest Mushrif. Singh replied that if the MLA wants protection he can file for pre-arrest bail before the special court. He can’t seek protection from arrest under the guise of quashing proceedings, he said.

“ED’s investigation is dependent on the predicate offence”

Ponda contended that ED’s investigation is dependent on the predicate offence. The ED’s malafide (intention) is already under the HC’s judicial scrutiny and the same FIR (in the Kolhapur case) is being investigated. Hence, it’s only fair that his client is granted relief, Ponda said.

Mushrif’s plea said the ED’s real intention was to target him. Therefore, despite having no case and the matter pertaining to the predicate offence being stayed, the agency was trying to arrest him possibly at the behest of BJP’s Kirit Somaiya. “It is common knowledge as to how in recent times the ED office is being used to wreck political vengeance and either severely damage or completely destroy political careers,” the plea alleged.

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