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Monday, May 23, 2022

CBI says Deshmukh case facts are very disturbing that can’t be discussed in open court

CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) had sought the custody of four accused including former Maharashtra Home Minister NCP leader Anil Deshmukh in connection with the corruption case registered by the agency last year. It made the submission in court on Friday and received the custody of three of them-Sachin Waze, Sanjeev Palande and Kundan Shinde-on Monday while reports indicate it is expected to get Deshmukh’s custody today (April 6).

“On April 1, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court had allowed the agency to take custody of Deshmukh, his personal secretary Vijay Palande, Vaze and personal assistant Kundan Shinde, all arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the money laundering case, from Arthur Road jail where they are currently lodged”, reported Hindustan Times (HT).

In its remand plea, CBI stated that it needed custody of the accused for 10 days while impressing upon the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court that the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government wasn’t cooperating with the central agency. “The arrested accused may also be required to be subjected to scientific interrogation techniques during their confrontation, for which they may be required to be taken over to CBI Head Office at Delhi”, the CBI plea said.

Deshmukh, Palande, and Shinde were under the PMLA court’s custody while Vaze was in NIA court custody till Friday. The agency has been granted custody of the accused by Judge AS Sayyad. The court also held that the allegations appeared to be serious.

“The CBI said Waze’s confessional statement was recorded before a magistrate and he had corroborated the version of witnesses on the collection of money. “Huge amount of bribe was being collected from orchestra bars and restaurants and demand were made by the former home minister through his staffers for monthly collection,” it submitted. It said a target of over Rs 1 crore per month was set. It alleged very disturbing facts had emerged that could not be discussed in open court”, noted ToI (Times of India).

Highlighting the lack of cooperation by Deshmukh, CBI alleged that the former home minister had deliberately injured himself and got admitted to the hospital to avoid custody and frustate investigations. It must be mentioned that Deshmukh is reported to have dislocated his shoulder after he suffered a fall in prison. The central agency has called for a medical report from the hospital.

Deshmukh is reported to have sustained the injury on March 30 and subsequently has been admitted to the Sir JJ Hospital on April 2. “We don’t know what is causing it (Deshmukh’s shoulder pain). Doctors are running tests. He will be seeing doctors from 2-3 specialities following which the orthopaedic department will decide if he needs surgical intervention”, JJ Dean Dr Pallavi Saple has been quoted as saying. However, the state-run hospital discharged Deshmukh on Tuesday afternoon and sent him back to jail.

According to the ToI report “Seeking the court’s nod to take the accused to Delhi, CBI said they are to be interrogated on the basis of voluminous case records which are available there and also for want of secrecy, sanctity and security of records. The prosecution submitted the state government was not co-operating and time and again challenged it through petitions”.

The corruption case against Deshmukh was registered on April 21, 2021, by the CBI on the basis of former Mumbai Police Commission Param Bir Singh’s March 30 letter addressed to CM Uddhav Thackeray. Singh had alleged that Mumbai police officers including Vaze had been instructed by Vaze to collect Rs 100 crores every month from Mumbai’s restaurants and bars.

Subsequently, the ED also filed a money laundering case against Deshmukh, his son Hrishikesh and others. Vaze is alleged to have called a meeting of Mumbai bar owners and collected ₹4.7 crores from them between December 2020 and February 2021 on Deshmukh’s instructions. The ‘vasooli’ was reportedly for ‘avoiding’ police interference.

Vaze’s statement to ED stated that the ‘extorted money’ was handed over by him to Kundan Shinde in two instalments. Palande and Shinde were taken into custody by the ED on June 26 last year and on August 23 a chargesheet was filed against them which names Vaze as an accused.

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