The Enforcement Directorate (ED) got the custody of the former state home minister, Anil Deshmukh, till Friday after it moved the Bombay High Court late on Saturday night against the special court’s order refusing further custodial interrogation of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader.
In its revision plea, the Central agency told the vacation court of Justice Madhav J Jamdar, that despite its fervent request for extending Deshmukh’s custody, the holiday court had remanded him in judicial custody and had denied it sufficient opportunity for investigation in a case that had wide, serious ramifications when the probe was at a crucial stage.
After Deshmukh’s arrest past midnight last Tuesday after over 12 hours of questioning, he had been produced before a holiday court and had been remanded in the agency’s custody till Saturday.
On Saturday, however, though the ED sought his custody for another nine days, the special court refused further custody and remanded the 72-year-old in judicial custody. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh appearing for the ED, told the bench that in a case involving colossal fraud and money laundering, the probe could not be expected to be completed within a short time and that the investigating agency should be given sufficient opportunity to collect quality evidence.
He argued that while five days of custody were granted, two of them were Diwali holidays. The ASG told the court that it was practically impossible to probe in such a short span of time, more so when those connected with the case were citing reasons to seek time to join the probe. The agency, in its revision plea, also told the court that Deshmukh had not cooperated with the probe and his sustained interrogation under custody was required.
Further, the special court, in holding that the probe was document-based while refusing it further custody, had failed to comprehend the importance of confrontation and custodial interrogation of the accused. It said that in such cases, police custody was not only absolutely necessary but it's right, to bring to the fore economic offences that are a class of offences affecting society at large.
The sessions judge, it said, had taken a casual approach in denying time for the probe. Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhari and advocate Aniket Nikam appeared for Deshmukh and told the bench that Deshmukh was willing to face custodial interrogation for about four days and by consent, the sessions court’s order may be set aside.
Justice Jamdar said in his order that on going through the sessions court’s order and the investigation papers, prima facie there was substance in the submissions made by the ASG and also the contentions raised in the ED’s revision plea on the legality of the sessions court’s order. The court directed that Deshmukh be remanded in the ED’s custody from November 7 to November 12.
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