Published on: 05 September 2023 at 22:31 IST
Former Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar received temporary respite on Monday as the city police assured the Bombay High Court that they would refrain from arresting her for a period of two days regarding her alleged involvement in a body bag purchase scam related to COVID-19 victims.
Pednekar turned to the High Court after a sessions court had rejected her pre-arrest bail plea the previous week, citing allegations of an economic offense involving a substantial amount of public funds.
A single bench presided over by Justice N J Jamadar took up Pednekar’s plea for consideration.
Rahul Arote, her legal representative, informed the court that Pednekar, as a former mayor, was concerned about facing arrest in the case.
A prosecutor representing the police requested additional time and assured the court that the case’s investigating officer was present, indicating that the police would refrain from taking any coercive actions until Wednesday.
The bench subsequently scheduled the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.
The Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) had initiated a case against Pednekar and two high-ranking officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 420 (cheating) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy). This action followed a complaint filed by BJP leader Kirit Somaiya.
The allegations revolved around the misappropriation of funds, irregularities in the management of healthcare facilities, and the procurement of body bags, masks, and other items for deceased COVID-19 patients by the BMC during the pandemic.
Kishori Pednekar had served as the mayor of Mumbai from November 2019 until March 2022, when the term of the BMC’s general body concluded. Fresh civic elections are yet to be conducted.
In her pre-arrest bail plea, Pednekar asserted that she had been falsely implicated and argued that the complaint against her was politically motivated.
She contended that the case was filed only after the split within the Shiv Sena party and alleged that she was being singled out due to her affiliation with the Uddhav Thackeray faction.
Pednekar further claimed that Kirit Somaiya, the complainant in the case and a former Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai, had a history of targeting politicians who did not align with his political party and was known for being a habitual complainant.