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Public money misused, no pre-arrest bail for Mumbai ex-mayor: Court | Mumbai News – Times of India


MUMBAI: Observing that she appears to be involved in economic offences of a huge amount which is public money and that the allegations need to be viewed seriously as they are grave offences affecting the country’s economy, causing serious threat or loss to its financial health, a sessions court on Tuesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of former mayor Kishori Pednekar, 60, in the overpriced Covid-time body bags case.
The judge also said that the allegations appear in respect of not protecting the interest of a public body like the BMC, resulting in criminal breach of trust by the applicant, a public servant. “Prima facie allegations show conspiracy involving misuse of powers and public money. The funds in question prima facie appears government money i.e. public funds… There appears loss to the society which is required to be investigated thoroughly… Therefore, without custodial interrogation it cannot be said that the applicant is not involved or falsely involved in the crime in question,” judge S B Joshi said. Pednekar will move the Bombay high court against the order.

In the ten-page order, the judge also said that the investigation authority has to be given full freedom for probe to secure several aspects in relation to the allegations. “The grant of anticipatory bail to the applicant will certainly hamper proper and effective investigation… So the objection and contention of the… counsel for the applicant that she was called for interrogation at various points of time and she has attended the office of EOW and co- operated, this will not be the sole and sufficient ground to grant discretionary relief to the applicant because the custodial investigation is always on a different footing than the inquiry,” the judge said.
Earlier this month, the police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) registered an FIR over the purchase of allegedly overpriced body bags for Covid-19 victims. Pednekar was named an accused, with contractor Vedanta Innotech (VIPL) and its directors, and senior BMC officials, including a senior additional municipal commissioner (projects).
The prosecution alleged Pednekar had influenced Dr Haridas Rathod, then holding additional charge as deputy dean, central purchase department, to buy 1,200 body bags between May 16 and June 7, 2020, from VIPL, who were selling each bag at Rs 6,719. Prior to May 15, one firm had supplied about 100 body bags to hospitals for Rs 2,925 each. It was submitted that by misusing her powers, Pednekar and other co-accused have managed to get cancelled the purchase orders given to M/s Care One Solutions and thus succeeded in purchasing the bags at a higher rate from VIPL.
While Rathod proposed that purchase order be issued to Care One to supply 1,000 body bags, the first lot of 200 bags was not accepted by BMC for no valid reasons, and the purchase order was later cancelled by the civic corporation.
Opposing her anticipatory bail plea, the prosecution feared that Kishori Pednekar might deter Rathod “from testifying in future due to pressure or inducement or fear.”
Pednekar, who belongs to the UBT Shiv Sena, has claimed that, as a former nurse, she had got complaints of poor-quality body bags from hospitals and had brought this to the notice of the purchase department. She had no role in giving the contract to VIPL, she claimed. It was also argued that Pednekar was unfortunately involved falsely at the instance of a political party and police machinery.
However, the judge said that in view of the position Pednekar was holding at the relevant time, Care One Solutions would have definitely trusted and believed her. “There is also complaint by… Care One Solutions before additional municipal commissioner (projects) at MCGM (BMC). Thus, the delivery of the material was not accepted though it was sent as per purchase order from MCGM. Thus, the allegations are as to causing (sic) cheating to Care One Solutions,” the order said.



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