In a relief for former home minister Anil Deshmukh, the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted him liberty to file an application before the Bombay High Court seeking urgent hearing in his bail application.
A vacation bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and B V Nagarathna expressed “hope and trust” that the high court would take up the 73-year-old minister’s bail plea for hearing expeditiously.
Deshmukh was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in November 2021 in an alleged money laundering case. He was subsequently arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) this April in a corruption case. At present he is in judicial custody.
Deshmukh’s counsel, Kapil Sibal, appearing for Deshmukh, told the court that Deshmukh was 73 years old and requested that the HC expeditiously hear his bail plea which was filed in March.
The SC observed : “....the petitioner (Deshmukh) is at liberty to file application for early listing of his bail application.....”
The apex court also took note of the fact that Deshmukh’s bail application was listed for hearing before the HC on three occasions, however, the same could not be heard due to paucity of time.
The SC orally said that it cannot fix a date for hearing by the HC.
The HC, on April 8, had adjourned the hearing in Deshmukh’s bail application and expressed disapproval of the practice of seeking urgent hearing in the guise of medical emergencies. Justice Anuja Prabhudessai had remarked: “This petition (Deshmukh’s bail plea) was listed a day after it was filed only because the precipe (application seeking urgent hearing) mentioned medical grounds. Otherwise priority is given to old bail matters pending since many years.” The judge further remarked that several accused have been languishing in jail for more than five or ten years.
Deshmukh had sought bail from the HC after the special court rejected it in March this year. He has sought bail on medical grounds citing ill health and claimed that the ED case was false and frivolous.
The ED has opposed his bail plea alleging that Deshmukh is the “mastermind and brain” behind the money laundering conspiracy and that he had misused his official position to amass wealth. The investigating agency also said that the former minister exercised undue influence to pass favourable transfers and postings of police officials. ED further has said if Deshmukh is released on bail then he may influence the probe as he was an influential person and the probe is still at a nascent stage.