The Bombay High Court on Sunday set aside a Special PMLA Court order granting 14 days’ judicial custody to former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and remanded him back to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for five days.
The order was given by vacation judge Justice M.J. Jamdar in an urgent filed plea by the ED on Sunday, challenging the Special Court Judge P.R. Sitre’s ruling on Saturday, declining the agency’s plea for extending Deshmukh’s custody by nine more days.
Deshmukh’s lawyers Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhri and Aniket Nikam submitted to the court that without getting into the merits or maintainability of the ED application they were volunteering cooperation and not shying away from the investigation, and hence not objecting to the further remand.
The ED’s lawyers, Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh and advocate Shreeram Shirsat argued in the Bombay High Court that they were not granted further custody by the Special PMLA Court thus were denied of sufficient and adequate opportunity to probe the case having serious ramifications and when the investigations are at a crucial state.
Seeking nine more days’ extended custody, they had pleaded in the Special PMLA Court saying that owing to the (Diwali) public holidays, they were unable to procure certain documents, Deshmukh’s replies were evasive, and the ED needed to confront him with the other accused involved in the case.
Deshmukh, 72, a senior Nationalist Congress Party leader, was nabbed early on November 2 after he was questioned by the ED for over 13 hours on November 1, and sent to 4 days custody of the agency on alleged charges of extortion and money-laundering.
The case arises out of the allegations levelled by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh — currently ‘missing’ — accusing Deshmukh of allegedly setting a monthly “collection target” of Rs 100 crore from hoteliers to his former aide, now dismissed cop Sachin Vaze, who is in custody.
Deshmukh has consistently denied the allegations hurled against him by Singh and Vaze and in a video statement, questioned ‘where the former Mumbai top cop was, who is wanted in several cases, who made the accusations and is now gone untraceable’.
Simultaneously, his son Hrishikesh Anil Deshmukh — summoned by the ED for questioning in the same case — has approached the Mumbai Sessions Court seeking anticipatory bail and his plea will be heard on November 12.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)