Enforcement Directorate Action Illegal, Praful Patel Gets Back Rs 180 Crore South Mumbai Worli Home Ceejay House

Probe Agency Action 'Illegal', Praful Patel Gets Back Rs 180 Crore Mumbai Home

Praful Patel represents the NCP led by Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar (File)

New Delhi:

In a huge relief to Praful Patel, a Mumbai court has quashed an Enforcement Directorate order seeking to attach his properties worth over Rs 180 crore. The order was passed by an Appellate Tribunal that deals with the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act, or SAFEMA.

In the Rajya Sabha, Mr Patel represents the NCP led by Ajit Pawar – Sharad Pawar’s nephew who is now a part of Maharashtra’s Mahayuti coalition with the BJP and Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena.

Earlier, the ED had seized the 12th and the 15th floors of Ceejay House in south Mumbai’s upscale Worli owned by Mr Patel and his family.

These apartments worth about Rs 180 crore are registered in the name of Praful Patel’s wife Varsha and his company Millennium Developer. 

The financial probe agency had alleged that the properties were acquired illegally from Hajra Memon – the widow and the first wife of Iqbal Mirchi, a drug mafia and gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s right-hand man.

Mirchi, also an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, died in London in 2013.

Rejecting the ED’s attachment order, the tribunal said that the probe agency’s action against Mr Patel was illegal since the properties were not involved in money laundering and were not linked to Mirchi. 

In its order, the tribunal further said that the 14,000-square-foot property of Ms Memon and her two sons in Ceejay House was separately attached. Therefore, the other 14,000-square-foot of the Patels’ property did not require double attachment since it is not a part of the proceeds of the crime.

Earlier, the ED said that Praful Patel had bought the plot – on which Ceejay House was later built – from Ms Memon, adding that since she and her two sons have already been declared fugitives, the properties were attached.

The tribunal’s decision has drawn sharp barbs from the Opposition in the state and renewed the “washing machine” charges against the BJP.

Sanjay Raut, who represents Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena in the Rajya Sabha, said that the developments have put the ED’s credibility in question.

“It is now clear that the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation, or CBI, are both extensions of the BJP. The ED’s credibility is in question now,” Mr Raut said.

“We had no illegal properties. Yet they were attached. You have released everyone’s property but not of those who oppose you (the BJP). We will continue our legal battle. You can take away even my clothes. We won’t bow to you,” he asserted.

Praful Patel, an Ajit Pawar loyalist, stood with him during his shock rebellion against his uncle Sharad Pawar in 2023. The coup ended with the Nationalist Congress Party, founded by the senior Pawar, being divided into two groups. Subsequently, Ajit Pawar lent support to the BJP-Shinde Sena government in the state and went on to become one of the Deputy Chief Ministers.

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