The Bombay High Court will hear a plea seeking probe into the alleged disproportionate assets belonging to former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and his family on December 8.
A division bench led by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur will hear the plea by a Mumbai resident and her father, seeking directions to the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into alleged disproportionate assets of Thackeray and his family.
On November 22, Chief Justice Dipankar Datta recused himself from hearing the plea. On Wednesday, the plea filed by Gouri Bhide, 38, was mentioned before a bench of Justice Thakur and Justice Valmiki Menezes, which posted the matter to December 8.
Bhide, a resident of Dadar, said her family was in the printing business like the Thackerays and briefly printed supplements of late Bal Thackeray’s weekly during the Emergency. They said the Sena mouthpiece Saamana and Marmik magazine were never subject to audits by the audit bureau of circulation and no one knows their print order. She added that during the coronavirus pandemic, the entire print media had faced losses, but Thackeray’s publication showed a record turnover of Rs 42 crore and a record profit of Rs 11.5 crore. Bhide alleged that this was a case of “turning black money into white money”.
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The PIL alleged Uddhav Thackeray and his family members accumulated ‘benami property’, yet the police avoided taking legal action against them on account of heavy political pressure.
The PIL sought directions to the central agencies to take cognisance of the complaint filed with the Mumbai police and investigate it. It also said the status of the probe should be submitted to the court every month.
On November 18, advocate Joel Carlos, representing the Thackerays, pointed out that the petitioner had not filed an affidavit in compliance with the criminal PIL Rules, to which Bhide, who appeared in person, said that she had complied with all the requirements sought by the high court registry.
Another high court bench had asked Bhide to obtain a competency certificate required for parties who appear before the court without assistance from advocates.
On November 22, the bench led by CJ Datta asked Bhide if she wanted to engage a lawyer from legal aid as the concerned committee had raised certain aspects about her representation in person, and the petitioner said she would do so as per the court’s directions. Thereafter, CJ Datta recused himself from hearing the plea.