The police on Friday searched the property of the former Mumbai Congress president, Kripashankar Singh, who is being investigated for amassing huge benami assets, even as the Supreme Court refused to grant him any relief, rapping him for “attempted Bench-hunting.”
The police also started attaching 19 movable and immovable assets of the politician and his family.
“The Bench seemed upset. It did not give him any relief. The matter was to be mentioned yesterday [on Thursday], but it was mentioned today [on Friday]. When the court asked them the reason for not mentioning it yesterday [on Thursday], they gave a wrong reason. To quote the judge, he said, it was ‘attempted Bench-hunting.' The matter has been listed for March 13,” senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani told The Hindu from New Delhi.
He represents Sanjay Tiwari, who had filed the Public Interest Litigation petition against Kripashankar in the Bombay High Court.
The police have already seized documents from the searched property. Sources said all 19 movable and immovable properties in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and in Uttar Pradesh were being attached.
There was no official confirmation of the number of properties attached on Friday, but notices were put up at certain assets like ‘Tarang,' a bungalow on Bandra Carter Road, which stated: “The property has been seized by the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police from today.” Even two BMW cars belonging to the family were attached, the sources said.
The search and seizure operations began around 8.30 a.m., and police personnel were seen taking photographs and scanning and seizing documents. “Please don't ask anything. I am not supposed to give you any information,” a police official told The Hindu outside ‘Tarang.'
Mumbai Additional Commissioner of Police (Economic Offences Wing) Rajvardhan visited various premises in the morning, but he refused to talk to the media.
Most of the properties are under the ownership of Mr. Kripashankar's son, who is also named as one of the abettors of crime in the First Information Report filed by the Mumbai police.
Among the places which were searched were three flats at upscale Bandra, owned by Mr. Kripashankar's son and daughter; a duplex flat at Vile Parle owned by his son; a huge shop in a commercial complex at Panvel and two office premises measuring 22,500 sq.ft. and 12,000 sq.ft. each in the plush Bandra Kurla Complex, again under the ownership of his son; shops in HDIL building at Bhandup; two flats at Powai owned by Mr. Kripashankar and his daughter; two shops at Hiranandani Garden at Powai owned by his daughter; and one flat in Hiranandani Garden at Kurla owned by his son-in-law.
Kripashankar is also known to own an 8000-sq.ft. commercial complex at Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh and 250 acres of land at Ratnagiri. His wife is shown as the purchaser of the Jaunpur complex. And the Ratnagiri land is shown as belonging to his daughter and son-in-law.
Highly placed sources said the police had taken judicial possession of the property. This means that though the accused can use the assets, they will not be able to sell, mortgage or rent them out.
Last week, the High Court directed the Mumbai Police Commissioner to prosecute the politician under the Prevention of Corruption Act and attach his benami property running into crores of rupees. It also directed the police to file an FIR against him and his family members.
The police have accordingly filed the FIR under various Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code against the politician, his family members and unknown persons.