Updated: September 2, 2021 8:34:05 pm
Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh has approached the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of summons issued by Enforcement Directorate (ED) asking him to appear before the agency in connection with a money-laundering and corruption case.
While the plea was listed for hearing before the single-judge bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere on Thursday, the judge recused herself and asked the petitioner to approach an alternate bench.
The ED has issued at least five summons so far to Deshmukh, asking him to appear before it. Deshmukh, however, has not complied
with any of them.
He wrote to the agency multiple times requesting questioning over video conferencing in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Deshmukh has also moved the Supreme Court asking for a “fair and reasonable investigation” in the money-laundering case against him. The court heard the case on August 16 and did not grant any interim relief to Deshmukh from ED action.
Through his application before the high court, Deshmukh has sought permission to submit documents or statements to ED through electronic mode and be represented for attendance before ED through an “authorised agent”. He has also sought direction to entrust the investigation to an SIT comprising ED officers from outside Mumbai Zonal office and to monitor the probe as per the ratio laid down by the Supreme Court in Babubhai Jamnadas Patel case. In the 2009 case, the top court had concluded that in appropriate cases, the court may monitor the probe when it is satisfied that investigation is not being proceeded with or is being influenced by interested parties.
The ED probe has claimed that Deshmukh, while in office as the home minister of Maharashtra, “received illegal gratification of approximately Rs 4.7 crore in cash from various orchestra bar owners” between December 2020 and February 2021 through now-dismissed Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze.
According to the ED, Deshmukh’s family “laundered the tainted sum of Rs 4.18 crore and projected it as untainted by showing the same amount as received by the trust, namely Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha”.
The ED probe into Deshmukh’s financial transactions is in line with the CBI probe into former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh’s allegations of corruption against the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initiated a preliminary probe based on the April 5 HC order and had registered FIR on April 21. Deshmukh has denied the allegations.
The high court will hear Deshmukh’s application in due course. It will also hear a plea by Deshmukh’s personal secretary Sanjeev Palande for quashing the corruption case lodged against him by ED.
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