The Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to grant interim relief from coercive action to Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Pravin Darekar, while hearing his plea seeking that an FIR registered against him for cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust be quashed.

The FIR was registered on a complaint filed by AAP leader Dhananjay Shinde, who has accused Darekar of defrauding the government and the Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank (known as Mumbai Bank) by posing as a labourer and contesting the bank’s election for the post of director under the labour category.

While refusing to make a statement assuring no-coercive action against Darekar, the state government said that he has been arraigned as an accused and the probe is at nascent stage. It added that Darekar has been disqualified as a labourer by the Joint Registrar of cooperative societies and the same was upheld by the deputy registrar in January, and that the FIR makes grounds for his arrest.

The government clarified that the matter was not related to the Economic Offences Wing case, in which Darekar has been booked for causing a loss of over Rs 100 crore to the bank by fraud and embezzlement of funds.

The HC, however, said that its refusal to grant interim relief cannot be considered as a ride for Darekar to approach the appropriate forum seeking remedies, including pre-arrest bail on apprehension of arrest.

A division bench of Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Shriram M Modak conducted an urgent hearing on Darekar’s plea, seeking to quash the FIR registered at MRA Marg police station on March 14.

Shinde, in his complaint to the police, has alleged that Darekar has worked as the president of the bank for years. He has claimed that in 1997, Darekar registered himself as a labourer in Pratidnya Labour Cooperative Society and subsequently, got registered in the bank. He has been contesting elections for the post of director under the labour category since, Shinde has alleged.

Senior advocate Aabad Ponda, representing Darekar, said this FIR was the third FIR against his client and while he is willing to cooperate with the probe, an interim protection must be granted to him. Ponda added that there was no urgency as the alleged offence took place 25 years ago.

However, Chief Public Prosecutor Aruna S Pai, appearing for the state, opposed the plea stating that only two days have passed since the FIR was lodged and the probe is at the nascent stage with the agency yet to decide whether any more stringent offences have to be added. Therefore, any blanket order will hamper the probe and interim relief should not be granted, Pai argued.