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Land purchased by Khadse's kin belonged to MIDC as per its official: ED

The agency has alleged that Eknath Khadse, who was the revenue minister in 2016, 'coerced and forced' officials to facilitate the illegal purchase.

Enforcement Directorate

Enforcement Directorate

An official of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) told the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that the land purchased by NCP leader Eknath Khadse' wife Mandakini and son-in-law Girish Chaudhari in 2016 belonged to the MIDC, the central agency told a court on Thursday.

The ED, which sought extension of Chudhari's custody, argued in its application that the duo, therefore, could not have legally purchased this land near Bhosri in Pune district.

The special court here for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) extended the ED custody of Girish Chaudhari, arrested on July 6, till July 19.

The agency has alleged that Eknath Khadse, who was the revenue minister in 2016, "coerced and forced" officials to facilitate the illegal purchase. The former BJP leader has denied any wrongdoing. The regional officer of MIDC, Pune, said in his statement that the land belonged to the MIDC as per a 1971 notification, said the central agency.

According to this officer, Chaudhari and Mandakini Khadse wrongly purchased the land from Abbas Ukani as it belonged to the MIDC through acquisition, the ED said.

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Further, the power of attorney-holders who received the money and paid stamp duty appeared to be not connected with the `7/12 extract' (part of the official record which establishes title) of the land, the ED said in the remand plea. Ukani was alive when the land was sold and therefore there was no reason for him giving PoA to anybody, it argued.

As per the ED, the purchase of the land was routed through shell companies. Director of one such company, Benchmark Buildcon, stated that he was offered Rs 15,000 per month for agreeing to lend his name as director but never saw the firm being engaged in any work, the ED alleged.

The investigation was at a critical stage, and only after recording the statements all the persons who assisted Chaudhari in executing the land deal, the "modus operandi to acquire the land", source of the funds and others detail can be ascertained, it said.

Chaudhari's lawyer Mohan Tekavde opposed the remand plea. Citing a high court order, Tekavde argued that his arrest itself was illegal.

The ED has alleged that Chaudhari and Khadse's wife purchased government (MIDC) land in Bhosari for Rs 3.75 crore when the actual value as per the sub-registrar's valuation was Rs 31.01 crore.

The ED case is based on an FIR filed by the Pune police's anti-corruption bureau against Khadse, his wife and Chaudhari in April, 2017.

Khadse, a senior BJP leader who resigned from the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet after the alleged land scam came to light, joined the NCP last year.
PTI

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