While refusing to grant relief to former home minister Anil Deshmukh, the Bombay High Court has asked the Enforcement Directorate to file its reply, if it felt necessary, to the NCP leader’s plea challenging the summons issued by the investigating agency in a money laundering case.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar said that the ED could file its reply by the next date of hearing, September 29.
Deshmukh had approached the HC challenging the five summons issued by the ED alleging that it was a result of “political vendetta”. Deshmukh has prayed that case may be probed a SIT comprising of officers from outside Mumbai. He has also prayed that he may be allowed to record his statement through video conferencing. Deshmukh has skipped all the summons.
During the hearing on Thursday, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the ED, requested the court to keep the plea for virtual hearing so that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta could argue for the investigating agency.
Opposing the adjournment, Deshmukh’s lawyers – senior counsel Vikram Chaudhri and advocate Aniket Nikam – said that the court hear the arguments and grant interim relief to the minister from coercive action. He even sought that the ED be directed to file reply so that there are no further adjournments.
Chaudhari argued: “The ED has been indulging in demeaning tactics. This petition demonstrates the hapless state of affairs. The tactics (used by the ED) are deplorable.”
However, the HC refused to grant relief saying that it would first all the concerned and then pass any order. While keeping the plea for hearing on September 29, the HC said, “The ED may file its reply if they deem it necessary.”
The ED had initiated a probe against Deshmukh and his associates after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed its FIR against the NCP leader on April 21 on charges of corruption and misuse of official position.
ED has alleged that while serving as a home minister, Deshmukh misused his official position and through dismissed police officer Sachin Waze collected Rs 4.70 crore from various bars and restaurants in Mumbai. The money was allegedly laundered to Nagpur-based Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha, an education trust controlled by Deshmukh’s family.
Deshmukh has stated in his plea, “The statements made by Waze, a tainted cop, are absolutely false and concocted with a malafide intention to defame and frame the applicant (Deshmukh) with ulterior motives.” It also added that the amount received by the Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha was donations made before the period in which Waze alleges to have received illegal gratification from bars and restaurants.
He has even refuted the allegations of receiving gratifications from bar owners saying: “There was never any cash received as illegal gratification from bar owners as claimed by Waze.”
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