Mumbai PMLA Court issues proclamation against accused Topsgrup owners


By Quaid Najmi Mumbai, May 1 : In a major development, a Special PMLA Court here has issued a Proclamation against the absconding TopsGrup Services Ltd. Chairman and his daughter, in an alleged money-laundering case connected with a prominent Shiv Sena legislator. Last Tuesday (April 26), the Special Judge (PMLA Court) M.G. Deshpande had ordered the Proclamation against TopsGrup founder-Chairman Dr. Diwan Rahul Nanda and his daughter Rasshi Nanda, which was published on Sunday. The Enforcement Directorate (ED)'s case concerns a TopsGrup contract of 2014 to provide security guards for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and its field projects, allegedly in connivance with Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik through unauthorised means. The ED claimed that the illegal acts were intended to get inadmissible benefits by inflating the number of guards provided on contract duties for the MMRDA for which Sarnaik was allegedly given cash bribes of 50 per cent earnings at the cost of the MMRDA. The illegal profits earned by Sarnaik were occasionally transferred to the account of a third person as part of the alleged money-laundering racket. Sarnaik - raided by the ED in November 2020 and again swooped on by the ED and CBI in May 2021 -- has flayed the central agency's action as "arising out of vendetta politics". Incidentally, Nanda was arrested earlier in 2014 in the PMLA case and later released on bail. However, in the Sarnaik-linked matter, Nanda, 52, and his daughter Rasshi, 27, are absconding since some time, their contact numbers or of other company officials are either switched off / not reachable / does not exist. The ED moved a plea before Special Judge Deshpande for permission to issue a Proclamation against the father-daughter duo under the CrPC Section 82(1), ordering them to appear before the Special Court within 30 days. Special Public Prosecutor Kavita Patil argued during the previous hearing that the Oshiwara Police Station had gone to execute the arrest warrants against the accused duo at Nanda Villa in the Lokhandwala Complex but was locked. The ED had also tried to serve the non-bailable warrants of arrest against them but failed as they were not available at their place of residence. Taking serious note, Special Judge Deshpande noted that neither the accused nor their lawyers were present in the Special Court. "Therefore I am of the opinion that, there is a reason to believe that both accused (Nanda's) against whom warrants have been issued by this (Special Court) have absconded or have been concealing themselves so that such warrants cannot be executed," said Special Judge Deshpande, and permitted the issue of the Proclamation. "Proclamation is hereby made that the above accused in the above case are required to appear in the Court on May 26 to answer the said complaint," Special Judge Deshpande said. A prominent criminal lawyer said that the Proclamation is a strong weapon in the hands of the ED with serious repercussions for the absconding accused. "If they fail to turn up even after the Proclamation, they may face further action by way of being declared as fugitive economic offenders and their properties and other assets can be confiscated," he said. The ED has seized and sealed the Nanda Village, and represented by their legal team of Advocate Ajit Singh and Madhukar Dalvi, but they also remained absent in the previous hearings. (Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: /IANS


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