Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut released from jail after over 3 months in money laundering case
Mumbai/IBNS: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut was released from jail on Wednesday, hours after he was granted bail by a court in an alleged money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The probe agency was sharply rebuked for arresting Raut for "no reason" with a "pick-and-choose attitude".
He came out from the Arthur Road Jail in central Mumbai to a huge welcome from members of the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, waving a saffron scarf.
Raut's release was also cleared by the Bombay High Court, which refused to put the bail on hold as requested by the central agency.
Stating that it cannot pass such an order without hearing both parties, the high court listed the matter for hearing on Thursday.
"I have not even looked at the order. I don't know on what grounds bail has been granted. I don't know on what grounds you (the ED) have challenged the order. How can I grant a stay now without even hearing the parties," High Court Justice Bharati Dangre said.
The case pertains to an alleged Rs 1,000-crore scam in the redevelopment of Patra Chawl in Mumbai's Goregaon.
A special court earlier in the day granted bail to Raut and co-accused Pravin Raut while rejecting the ED's request to stay the effect of the order till Friday.
In scathing observations against the ED, the court in its order said, "I hold that both accused are basically arrested illegally."
"Simply labelling pure civil disputes with 'money laundering' or 'Economic Offence' cannot automatically acquire such status and ultimately drag an innocent person into a miserable situation in the guise of arrest... Court has to do what is right, irrespective of who is before it," the judge said.
"From the records materials and the detailed discussion made, it is clear how Pravin Raut is arrested for pure civil litigation, whereas Sanjay Raut for no reason. This truth is glaring," the order read.
Four months ago, ED confiscated 11 crores worth of assets of Varsha Raut and two of Sanjay Raut's associates.
Wife of Sujit Patkar, a "close associate" of Sanjay Raut, Swapna Patkar is now a witness in the case.
She alleged that she got a rape and murder threat after turning witness, but Sanjay Raut has refuted the allegation.
Raut is a Rajya Sabha MP and a close aide of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.