Updated: November 13, 2021 12:29:15 am
The special court on Friday granted the Enforcement Directorate (ED) extension of custody of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh till Monday in a money laundering case lodged in connection with alleged bribes collected from bar owners.
The ED sought to further question Deshmukh, stating that it wants to confront him with evidence, which has emerged from the statement of co-accused and dismissed Mumbai Police officer Sachin Waze.
The central agency told the court that Deshmukh, when asked about claims made by Waze about bribes being collected from bar owners, said that he was neither concerned with it in any way nor had he ever met Waze one-to-one.
Deshmukh’s lawyers questioned the ED on why, despite naming Waze in its chargesheet, had the agency not arrested him.
On Friday, the ED sought three day custody of Deshmukh, who was arrested on November 1.
Pleading to be sent to judicial custody with folded hands, the 72-year-old told the court that he has already faced 250 questions put forth by the central agency. “Repeated similar questions have been put to me with a malafide intent to obtain different answers. Every attempt has been made to confuse and impair my thinking process, knowing fully well that my body may not be able to take 9-10 hours of constant stress every day,” Deshmukh said in a two-page note given to the court before the hearing.
The note added that he was retracting statements that the ED has claimed to have recorded.
The ED counsel, Shreeram Shirsat, said the agency has sought permission from another court to question Waze for a few hours to record his statement again. Waze, who was arrested in March in the Ambani terror scare case, is in the custody of the Mumbai Police till Saturday.
Shirsat said that there are differences in the statements of Waze and Deshmukh, due to which the latter has to be confronted with emerging evidence and documents. Shirsat also said that the ED has summoned a private person who was handling “certain prestigious projects” in Deshmukh’s constituency in Nagpur. The ED said that the person had regularly visited Deshmukh’s official residence as well and needs to be questioned.
Lawyer Vikram Chaudhri, representing Deshmukh, said the ED had been given 10 days of his custody already and no extraordinary circumstances have been shown for grant of further custody. He added that earlier this week, Deshmukh had himself conceded to be sent to ED custody for four days to cooperate with the probe.
“The ED is now saying it wants to record Waze’s statement. If it has incriminating material against him, why has he not been arrested so far? He has some halo around his head due to which the ED does not feel the need to arrest him even though a chargesheet has been filed where he is accused number 1,” Chaudhri argued.
He added that ED has not summoned former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh, who had also made allegations against Deshmukh. So far, three non-bailable warrants are pending against Singh, who is on the verge of being declared an absconding offender, Chaudhri told the court.
Special Judge H S Satbhai, presiding over the special court for trial of criminal cases against MPs and MLAs, went on to send Deshmukh to ED custody till November 15. NCP MP Supriya Sule was seen waiting outside the courtroom on Friday.
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