Mumbai court rejects plea by MVA seeking blanket protection from ED

A plea was filed by members of the Congress party, seeking blanket protection from arrest for the Members of Parliament (MP) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

(L-R) Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray and Balasaheb Thorat (Representational/PTI)

A special court in Mumbai under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) rejected a plea filed by the members of the Congress party, seeking blanket protection on Friday. The plea had sought anticipatory bail for Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) belonging to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

When the application was first filed, the MVA was in power. However, following the events in June, the MVA is now the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly.

The Special judge, MG Deshpande said the application filed seeking blanket protection is not maintainable. “There is absolutely no strong prima-facie case made out by the applicants to grant any relief either interim or even final. The applicants are not apprehending their arrest. They are asking for interim protection of third parties. Passing such a blanket order will set a bad tradition,” said Deshpande.

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The plea had contended that the central government under the BJP was misusing the central investigative agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to harass the members of MVA – NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena – with a malafide intention and ulterior motive.

It said that BJP leaders including Subramanian Swamy, Devendra Fadnavis and Kirit Somaiya have tried to make false complaints against the members of the MVA and have used central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to do it. It mentioned the arrest of former home minister Anil Deshmukh and cabinet minister Nawab Malik.

The court had issued a notice to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the matter on June 18 but the agency did not enter an appearance.

Judge Deshpande said the plea was filed by three Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) members but except for an authority letter written by the president of MRCC, there was no evidence to show that the three political parties had authorised the applicants to represent them and seek such relief.

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