Updated: November 7, 2021 8:22:17 am
A special holiday court in Mumbai has refused to grant the Enforcement Directorate (ED) further custody of former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in connection with a money laundering case, sending the senior NCP leader to judicial custody for two weeks. Deshmukh will be lodged in Arthur Road jail in Mumbai.
The ED had arrested Deshmukh on Tuesday and was granted his custody for four days – until Saturday – by a holiday court.
On Saturday, special judge Prashant R Sitre rejected ED’s plea seeking another nine days of Deshmukh’s custody.
The ED had, through Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, submitted that Deshmukh’s statement was recorded four times between November 3 and November 6 but he continued to remain evasive in his replies and gave vague answers. Singh told the court that there were transactions made by Deshmukh with some of the 27 companies alleged to be fronts to launder money that was allegedly received as a bribe to the tune of Rs 4.70 crore from bar owners, collected by co-accused, dismissed cop Sachin Waze.
“He (Deshmukh) had transacted with some of the said companies and is not able to explain the reason for that, which clearly indicates the intention behind his denial of his associations with the companies,” the ED remand plea said. The ED said that when asked about his finances and accounts, Deshmukh said that his chartered accountant looked into these aspects. The ED also said that it had sought permission from a special court to record Waze’s statement in order to confront him with documents and evidence collected during Deshmukh’s questioning. In addition, the ED said it was summoning a private person who is alleged to have handed over the list of bars and orchestras in Mumbai to Waze on Deshmukh’s instructions.
Lawyers Vikram Chaudhri and Aniket Nikam, representing Deshmukh, said that ED’s plea seeking further custody was repetitive and vague, and that no new grounds were submitted by the agency to justify his custodial interrogation for nine more days. Chaudhri also told the court that the material submitted by the agency was already in its possession and, therefore, Deshmukh’s further custody was not required.
Earlier this week, the ED had claimed that Deshmukh was the primary beneficiary of the money laundering done of the bribe amount allegedly collected from bar owners. It alleged that Deshmukh’s family was indirectly controlling or managing the activities of 27 companies used to launder money, adding the bribe amount was shown as donations made to Deshmukh’s trust, Sai Shikshan Sanstha, by Delhi-based paper companies. ED alleged that Deshmukh had claimed that the money was a loan and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds received from the companies. ED further claimed that Deshmukh “started his dilly-dallying tactics” and stated that he did not know the companies when questioned about it. Deshmukh had claimed to not know of the financial transactions of the trust despite being its chairman, the agency added.
The ED claimed that it was calling certain “key persons” for the probe, including Deshmukh’s family members, and required them to be confronted with the former home minister. The agency said certain documents could not be obtained, and certain persons could not be examined, due to the holidays this week.
Deshmukh’s lawyers, meanwhile, said that they will be deciding on filing for bail in accordance with the law.
Deshmukh’s son summoned by ED, files anticipatory bail
Apprehending arrest after receiving ED’s summons, Anil Deshmukh’s son Hrishikesh approached the holiday court for anticipatory bail on Saturday. While no interim relief from coercive action was granted to him, the final hearing on his plea has been scheduled for November 12.
On Friday, the ED summoned Hrishikesh, who is allegedly linked to the companies being probed in the money laundering case.
In his plea filed before the court, Hrishikesh said that the ED’s complaint emerged out of the offence filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) following Bombay High Court’s orders but the complaint had “paled into insignificance” following an FIR filed by the Mumbai police. The plea refers to an FIR filed against dismissed cop Sachin Waze and former city police chief Param Bir Singh, where it is alleged that Waze called Param Bir his “number 1” and was extorting money from bar owners at his instructions. Hrishikesh’s anticipatory bail plea stated the CBI complaint against Deshmukh was filed on the basis of allegations made by Waze and Singh. “These unscrupulous persons are themselves knee-deep involved in several rackets or extortion, fraud…The principal person who held the high office of Commissioner of Police is now a wanted absconding criminal,” the plea stated. The plea also said that the ED has referred to assets created by Deshmukh over 15 years ago when Hrishikesh was merely a teenager and hence, had nothing to do with the alleged offence registered now. He said that he apprehended that he would be arrested like his father if he appeared before the agency in response to the summons.
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