The Bombay High Court Tuesday extended for two weeks an interim protection from arrest granted by the Sessions Court to the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council and BJP leader, Pravin Darekar, in connection with an FIR registered against him for allegedly cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust in a case of bank fraud.
A single-judge bench of Justice Anuj Prabhudessai adjourned by two weeks the hearing into the pre-arrest bail plea by Pravin Darekar due to paucity of time. The sessions court on Friday had rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Darekar and sessions judge R N Rokade had said there is “prima facie evidence” against him. However, after Darekar’s lawyer sought protection to seek relief against the order in the high court, the judge granted protection from arrest to Darekar till Tuesday, March 29.
The FIR was registered at MRA Marg police station on a complaint filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Dhananjay Shinde who accused Darekar of defrauding the government and the Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank (known as Mumbai Bank) by posing as a labourer and contesting the bank’s election for the post of director under the labour category. The police claimed that losses were incurred by the bank.
Shinde, in his complaint to the police, alleged that Darekar has worked as the president of the bank for years. He claimed that in 1997, Darekar registered himself as a labourer in the Pratidnya Labour Cooperative Society and subsequently, got registered in the bank. He has been contesting elections for the post of director under the labour category since, Shinde had alleged.
Darekar stated that he had not committed any offence and submitted that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had registered a complaint in 2015 based on the same offence but filed a closure report after investigation. Darekar said that he is willing to cooperate with the probe and the protection from arrest be granted to him, adding that there was no urgency as the alleged offence took place 25 years ago.
The police had said that Darekar had wrongly claimed to be a labourer even though he had other means of livelihood. On this basis, he entered the fray to become the director of the Mumbai District Cooperative Bank and received a remuneration of over Rs 4 lakh. The high court will hear Darekar’s plea after two weeks.