The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted protection from coercive action to Purvesh Sarnaik, son of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, in an alleged money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
A bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale said that such protection would be subject to Purvesh cooperating with the ED’s probe.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Pratap Sarnaik, a Maharashtra legislator, his sons Vihang and Purvesh, and his brother-in-law Yogesh Chandegala.
The petitioners, in their plea filed through senior advocate Amit Desai, have challenged the ED’s probe in the money laundering case related to a private security firm Tops Group.
They have also challenged the summons issued to them in March this year.
The apex court had granted protection from coercive action to Pratap Sarnaik, Vihang, and to Chandegala on Tuesday, in the same case.
The HC said that since others had already been protected, it will grant protection to Purvesh as well.
It, however, refused to grant any interim stay on the ED’s ongoing probe.
The bench added though, that the probe would be subject to the final outcome of the petition filed by the Sarnaiks and Chandegala.
The ED had first issued summons in the case to the petitioners in November last year based on an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR).
A month later, it named five persons, including these four, as an accused and sought leave of a magistrate’s court to continue further probe, advocate Desai told HC.
Such leave was not granted to the ED and therefore, any further probe would be illegal.
Yet, the central agency issued fresh summons to the petitioners in March this year based on the same ECIR, he said.
Advocate Desai also said that ED was trying to implicate Pratap Sarnaik and his family only because Sarnaik was a “member of the ruling party, an MLA who took up the cudgels of important matters, including the Anvay Naik suicide case, journalist Arnab Goswami’s alleged role in the case”.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the ED, however, said that its probe was in accordance with law.
He said that the agency did not require the magistrate court’s leave for further investigation.
He also opposed the plea on the ground that the petitioners could not seek similar reliefs from the top court and the high court simultaneously.
The high court will continue hearing the arguments in the case on April 30.