Mumbai: A holiday Special Court on Tuesday remanded former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh to the custody of Enforcement Directorate till November 6 in a money-laundering case, 16 hours after he was arrested at 1.00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Special Judge P.B. Jadhav rejected the plea by ED’s counsel, Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh seeking 14 days’ custody, which the defence lawyers, Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhri and advocate Aniket Nikam strongly protested.
Chaudhri said that before the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court, the ED had said that Deshmukh was only a suspect and not an accused in the case and termed the arrest ‘illegal’.
That was the reason Deshmukh voluntarily went to the ED office on November 1 and after 13 hours of questioning he was placed under arrest, he said.
The defence sought to know what fresh evidence the ED had gathered in the past four days since Friday (Oct 29) leading to the arrest especially since he had always cooperated with the agency whenever summoned.
The Bombay High Court on Friday declined Deshmukh’s plea to quash the ED summons against him, and he said that his matter was still pending before the Supreme Court.
Following an application by Deshmukh, the Special Judge Jadhav allowed home-food and medicines, and presence of a lawyer during the ED interrogation, given his advanced age of 72 and several health issues like a dislocated arm and heart problems, besides being a Covid-recovered patient, said Nikam.
The ED filed its case based on the CBI’s FIR against Deshmukh after former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had alleged that the minister had tasked sacked cop Sachin Vaze and others to collect Rs 100 crore from Mumbai hoteliers every month.
In a video-statement prior to appearing before the ED, Deshmukh had demanded to know “where is Singh who had levelled the false allegations” and now disappeared, amid reports he may have sneaked out of India.
Following Singh’s letter in March, the ED and CBI had carried out multiple raids on Deshmukh and family, and the ED sought his 14 days custody citing ‘non-cooperation’.
Deshmukh refuted the ED charges saying that whenever he was summoned, he had replied to them, provided documents, etc and said that he would appear after the outcome of his various court appeals.
“On account of a witch-hunt campaign launched at the instance of certain vested inimical interests, some blatantly false allegations have been levelled by those persons who have absolutely no credibility, honour or pride,” said Deshmukh.
He added that “these unscrupulous persons are themselves knee-deep involved in several rackets of extortion and even murder. The principal person who held the high office of Mumbai CoP is now a wanted absconding criminal”.