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Adarsh accused move HC against PMLA application

Mumbai: Seven accused in the Adarsh scam have moved the Bombay High Court stating the Enforcement Directorate`s case against them for money laundering is not "sustainable" as provisions of anti-money laundering law were not in force at the time of commission of the alleged offence.

The accused – R C Thakur and M M Wanchoo, promoters of Adarsh society, former collector Pradeep Vyas, former civic chief Jairaj Phatak, retired army major generals T K Kaul and A R Kumar and former Congress MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani – have filed an intervening application in a PIL by Thane-based activist Pravin Wategaonkar.

In his PIL, Wategaonkar had sought direction to ED to investigate the scam under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He had also sought a probe by the Income Tax department into the transactions and mode of payment of the society members while purchasing flats in the plush 31-storey building in south Mumbai. ED had at the last hearing on April 30 informed the High Court that it had registered a case under PMLA against 14 persons including former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

The seven accused in their application have claimed that the case under PMLA is not sustainable. "The provisions of PMLA were brought in force only from July 1, 2005. The incident in question that is allotment of land to Adarsh society, handing over possession of the land, registration of the society and approval of membership for the society happened before PMLA came into force. Hence they (members) cannot be tried for money laundering offences if any committed," the application states.

The accused have sought permission from the High Court to be impleaded as respondents in Wategaonkar`s PIL so that their case is heard. A division bench of Justices S A Bobade and Mridula Bhatkar will hear the PIL and the accused`s intervening applications on June 18.

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