PE in extortion case against Navlani closed, no truth found in allegations: SIT to HC

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The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Mumbai Police on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that it has closed preliminary enquiry (PE) against businessman Jitendra Navlani, a builder and an owner of a bar in south Mumbai, who had challenged the proceedings pertaining to his alleged connection with extortion by a few Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials.
A division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice N R Borkar was informed by Chief Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai on instructions that a probe by SIT in a case against Navlani has been closed.
The Mumbai Police had formed an SIT under instructions from former Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey when the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was in power. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had alleged that a few BJP leaders like Kirit Somaiya were close to Navlani.
Pandey, who retired on June 30, was replaced by Vivek Phansalkar as Mumbai Police Commissioner. The submission were made in the court after the Eknath Shinde-led government along with the BJP replaced the MVA government in the state.
As per a July 5 communication by the investigating officer (IO) to the public prosecutor, SIT had interrogated directors of various companies as witnesses and their detailed statements were recorded. “In the said case, the SIT did not find any truth in allegations made by the complainant pertaining to extortion and cheating and therefore, the PE has been closed with the approval of Mumbai Police Commissioner,” a communication by Additional Commissioner of Crime Branch S Viresh Prabhu read.
The bench took SIT’s submission on record, noted that nothing remained in the matter and disposed of the writ plea by Navlani that challenged the PE.
Raut had earlier this year alleged that Navlani along with three other persons had “extorted Rs 300 crore from Mumbai’s 70 top builders on behalf of Enforcement Directorate officials”, adding the racket was being run in connivance with certain leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He had also alleged that ED officials were buying properties in foreign countries and funding BJP candidates with the “extorted money”.
Navlani had apprehended that the PE would culminate in FIR against him and moved a writ plea in HC against SIT proceedings calling them “arbitrary, illegal.”
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