Published on: October 6, 2022 at 21:08 IST
Anil Deshmukh, former State Home Minister of Maharashtra, was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on Tuesday in a money laundering case brought by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Deshmukh, however, will continue to be held by the CBI.
Deshmukh was given conditions for appearing before the trial court and the investigating agency by a single-judge bench of Justice N J Jamadar, who also requested that he provide a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and sureties of the same sum.
The Supreme Court will be closed for the Dussehra holidays and reopen on Monday, October 10, according to the ED’s request for a two-week delay in the implementation of the order.
Deshmukh’s attorney opposed it and stated that the agency might appeal in the Supreme Court even while on vacation and that the applicant was not entitled to be released on bail because he was being held for a CBI case.
According to the court, the bail order will take effect on October 13th.
Deshmukh was detained by the ED in November of last year in connection with claims of money laundering and accepting payments from owners of bars and restaurants.
His appeal had been heard by Justice Jamadar for two days, and on September 28, he had reserved the decision.
After the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court rejected Deshmukh’s bail request in March on the grounds that there is prima facie evidence to suggest that he had exercised “undue influence” over police officer transfers and postings, Deshmukh petitioned the high court through attorneys Aniket Nikam and Inderpal Singh.
Senior attorney Vikram Chaudhari, who appeared on behalf of Deshmukh, requested bail claiming medical grounds and also noted that the suspected extortion money was allegedly gathered on the orders of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Invoking the Supreme Court’s statement that money laundering was as serious as murder and terrorism, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, who was representing ED, claimed that the “material” against the NCP leader showed his direct involvement and criminality and that, as a result, he should not be granted relief.
Deshmukh was not entitled to bail on medical grounds, according to the agency, because there is no complaint that he has not received treatment for his ailments.
The agency claimed that the applicant was involved in a money laundering case based on witness testimony and other information.
The now-dismissed police officer Sachin Waze, Assistant Commissioner Sanjay Patil, and Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde, according to ASG Singh, were present at meetings when Waze claimed to have been asked to gather money from bar owners and then deliver it to the minister.
Deshmukh disputed the veracity of Waze’s assertions.
The bench ruled that two components of the Trust’s credits do not constitute proceeds of crime, and that the third component rests on assertions made by Waze, whose veracity is called into question.
It stated that the matter also falls under the provisions of Section 45 of the PMLA Act.
The court stated that Sachin Waze’s allegations “completely hinge” on the reliability of the ED’s accusations.
The panel concluded, “Chaudhari’s criticism of Sachin Waze’s credentials, in light of the circumstance in which Waze finds himself, may hold some validity. Mr. Sachin Waze’s stint as a police officer has, at the very least, been contentious. He was suspended for over 16 years. He was detained by NIA 2021 after a gelatin-filled SUV was allegedly involved in the murder of a person.”
While he was still in the custody of the jurisdictional court, ED recorded his statements.
“The material on record does indicate that the Applicant has been suffering from several diseases,” the bench said in reference to Deshmukh’s ailments.
He is 73 years of age. Only a few of the illnesses might be categorized as degenerative. The applicant also has chronic illnesses, according to the medical reports and certificates. It would be outrageous to claim that the applicant is healthy given the information on file.
“The Applicant appears to have roots in society,” it continued.
The likelihood of escaping justice appears slim. Imposing the proper conditions will address the prosecution’s concerns about tampering with the evidence and endangering the witnesses.
The court determined that the claims made by Param Bir Singh and Waze that Deshmukh had accepted payments from police officials in exchange for postings “ex-facie lack the element of certainty as to the source, time, and place” and “they prima facie looks to be hear-say.”
Deshmukh was instructed by the court to stay in Greater Mumbai, inside the purview of the special PMLA Court, and to refrain from tampering with the evidence or establishing contact with the co-accused.