The Bombay High court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation seeking a disproportionate assets case against former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and his family, observing that the petitioner was seeking a “roving enquiry”.
The PIL, filed by city resident Gauri Bhide who claims to be a behaviour and soft skill consultant, sought the court’s direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to conduct a “thorough and impartial” investigation against the ex-CM and his family.
Calling herself a “sincere and vigilant” citizen, the petitioner said she wanted to help the Government of India “unearthing some more hidden, unaccounted wealth disproportionate to income and also unearth laundered money”.
A division bench of Justices Dheeraj Thakur and Valmiki Menezes rejected the plea, saying the petitioner was seeking a roving enquiry.
The plea stated Bhide was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “fight against corruption” and claimed she had evidence to show that the Thackeray family “has accumulated properties and assets illegally”.
It alleged that Uddhav Thackeray and his family never disclosed any particular service, profession or business as their official source of income. “Yet, we find they have huge properties in a metro city like Mumbai and in Raigad district, which may run into crores,” said the PIL.
Citing raids CBI and ED raids on people “who are very very close to the Thackeray family”, the PIL claimed that the Thackerays have links with “huge undisclosed properties, cash and other wealth”.
When print media incurred heavy losses during the COVID-induced lockdown, Thackerays’ “Prabodhan Prakashan Pvt. Ltd. showed brilliant performance of Rs 42 crore turnover and Rs 11.5 crore profit”, said petitioner Bhide, who also claimed that her family owned a printing press in Dadar in central Mumbai.
At the time, Uddhav Thackeray was the CM and his son Aaditya Thackeray was a cabinet minister, the plea said.
Appearing for the Thackerays, senior counsels Aspi Chinoy and Ashok Mundargi argued that the PIL had been filed on assumptions and without any factual foundation.
“The petition is absolutely bereft of any material and is filed purely on assumptions. The petitioner has an alternate remedy of filing a private complaint before a magistrate's court seeking police probe,” Chinoy had argued.
- With PTI Input