Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday sought the dismissal of a public interest litigation seeking probe against him and his family for allegedly massing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income.
Senior counsels Aspi Chinoy and Ashok Mundargi, appearing for Uddhav Thackeray, his wife Rashmi Thackeray and son Aditya Thackeray, argued the PIL has been filed on assumptions and without any factual foundation. A division bench of Justices Dheeraj Thakur and Valmiki Menezes on Thursday briefly heard the matter and then reserved its order. The petition, filed by behaviour and soft skill consultant and city resident Gauri Bhide, sought a direction to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to conduct a ”thorough and impartial” investigation against Thackeray and his family.
”The petition is absolutely bereft of any material and is filed purely on assumptions. The petitioner has an alternate remedy of filing private complaint before a magistrate’s court seeking police probe,” Chinoy argued.
He said Uddhav Thackeray is not in power anymore and, hence, it cannot be alleged he or his family would influence any probe. Mundargi argued Bhide should have first filed a complaint with the police or a private complaint.
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”The high court’s jurisdiction comes only when the alternate remedies have been availed of and no relief has been granted,” Mundargi said, adding the PIL has levelled allegations based on assumptions instead of facts.
Bhide, whose family owned a printing press in Dadar in central Mumbai, in her PIL said being a sincere and vigilant citizen, she wanted to help the government of India in ”unearthing some more hidden, unaccounted wealth disproportionate to income and also unearth laundered money.” The plea stated Bhide was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fight against corruption and claimed she has evidence to show the Thackeray family has accumulated properties and assets illegally.
It further alleged Uddhav Thackeray and his family never disclosed any “particular service, profession, and business as their official source of income.” “Yet, we find they have huge properties in a metro city like Mumbai and in Raigad district, which may run into crores,” the plea adds.
It also referred to raids conducted by the CBI and ED on people “who are very very close” to the Thackeray family and said this is “crystal clear the huge undisclosed properties, cash and other wealth with those persons have a close nexus” to the Thackerays.
During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown when the entire print media was facing heavy losses, Thackeray’s company Prabodhan Prakashan Pvt. Ltd showed “brilliant performance” of Rs 42 crore turnover and Rs 11.5 crore profit, the petition further claimed.
During this period, Uddhav Thackeray was the chief minister and his son Aaditya Thackeray was a cabinet minister, the plea said.
”It seems it is a clear case of turning the black money into white one,” the PIL alleged.