A SPECIAL court on Thursday rejected the bail application of Jayram Deshpande, a deputy collector rank officer arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in March for alleged money laundering linked to a resort in Dapoli in Ratnagiri district. Earlier this month, the court had also refused to grant bail to another accused in the case, Sadanand Kadam, a friend of Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Anil Parab.
Special judge M G Deshpande said there is abundant material to show that the accused as the sub-divisional officer in Dapoli at the relevant time of the alleged act had given sanction to convert the use of the land from agricultural to non-agricultural on which the resort was to be constructed. The court said that Deshpande had the knowledge that such sanction cannot be granted legally as the land fell in the Coastal Regulation Zone-III and yet it was done, and that he ‘knowingly assisted’ the process of money-laundering.
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The accused had in his defence said the permission was for construction beyond the 200 metres, which fell under the CRZ-III zone. The court, however, said that Deshpande was aware of the restrictions on construction on the land in question. It said that the accused was aware that the land fell in a No-Development Zone. “All this clearly indicates that the applicant (A2) (Deshpande) had concrete knowledge that granting permission in breach of CRZ-III Rules was not within his power and authority, yet granted the same though it was illegal,” the court said.
The ED had alleged that in 2017, Parab had intended to purchase land in Ratnagiri and approached his friend Kadam. The ED claims that a land identified for the construction of a twin bungalow was found to be in a No-Development Zone. However, it was mutual understanding between Kadam and Parab that the former would manage the work of getting permissions from competent authorities for the construction. The court said that the evidence showed that a government servant in the revenue department came under pressure from Kadam in the name of Parab. The official never visited the land but prepared a Panchnama.
“In such a situation, being head of the institution and sanctioning authority (SDO), great responsibility was on the shoulder of the applicant (A2) to visit the spot, verify the facts noted in the Panchnama and check the details therein,” the court said, adding that the proposal for permission should have been rejected by Deshpande.