The vacation bench of the Bombay high court (HC) on Sunday granted custody of former Maharashtra home minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Anil Deshmukh to Enforcement Directorate (ED) till November 12. The ED moved the HC on Saturday night after the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court refused to grant additional custody of Deshmukh to ED in the money laundering case and sent him to 14-day judicial custody on Saturday.
Appearing for ED, additional solicitor general Anil Singh and advocate Shreeram Shirsat told the single judge bench of justice Madhav Jamdar that the special court had not heeded their plea for extension of custody for nine days. Singh argued that the money laundering investigation was at a crucial stage. By not granting extension of Deshmukh’s custody, the investigation could be hampered, they said.
Appearing for Deshmukh senior advocate Vikram Chaudhri and advocate Aniket Nikam said that though there was much to say and argue on the merit as well as the maintainability of the application, they were voluntarily agreeing to ED custody, and hence, by consent, not opposing the ED’s application. They said Deshmukh had been cooperating with the investigation since the day he had visited the ED office on November 2 morning – and arrested 12 hours later – and will continue to do so.
After hearing the submissions by ED, the court referred to a Gujarat HC order wherein a revision application was allowed on the grounds that, “An order refusing to grant remand has direct bearing on the proceedings of the trial itself and in a given case will definitely have effect on the ultimate decision of the case.”
Justice Jamdar observed, “I have gone through the impugned order and also relevant investigation papers. Prima facie there is substance in the contentions raised by Mr. Anil Singh and also contentions raised in criminal revision application about the legality of the impugned order.” Thereafter, justice Jamdar granted custody of Deshmukh to ED till November 12.
Deshmukh had been arrested by ED on the midnight of November 2 and 3, in connection with the investigation in the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 21 this year, based on an allegation of former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. Deshmukh was accused by Singh of having directed police officers to collect ₹100 crore from bars and restaurants every month.
The ED claimed that Deshmukh had received ₹4.7 crore from dismissed police officer Sachin Vaze which he had allegedly collected from various bars and restaurants. The agency has further claimed that Deshmukh laundered the amount through a shell company based in Delhi and had received the amount in Shree Sai Shikshan Sanstha, a trust owned by his family.