ED probe based on claims of people accused of murder and extortion: Anil Deshmukh to HC


PTI, Oct 13, 2021, 6:56 PM IST

Mumbai: Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) initiated proceedings against him in the alleged money laundering case based on the claims made by those people who themselves are accused of “heinous offences such as murder and extortion”.

Deshmukh, who had failed to appear before the ED, said through his counsel that he wanted to appear before the ED tomorrow but the agency is calling a “bogey against him of non-cooperation”.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi, who appeared for the ED, told the HC that if Deshmukh was alleging malice, he should implead such persons as parties to his plea, whom he was accusing of being “murderers and extortionists.”

Senior counsel Vikram Chaudhri, who appeared for Deshmukh, told a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and SV Kotwal that the arguments against him were fabricated and sought, among other reliefs, that summons issued to the NCP leader by the ED be quashed.

Lekhi, however, denied that the federal agency”s probe was malafide or in breach of due process.

Lekhi said Deshmukh was not above the law and was liable to appear before the ED and respond to its summons.

The arguments were made on a plea filed by Deshmukh seeking that the summons issued to him by the ED and the entire proceedings in the case be quashed.

Deshmukh also sought exemption from personal appearance before the anti-money laundering agency. He demanded interim directions to the ED and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to not take any coercive action against him in the case.

The ED has launched a probe against Deshmukh and others after the CBI filed an FIR against the NCP leader on April 21 this year on the charges of corruption and misuse of official position. The CBI FIR was registered following a preliminary inquiry (PE) into the allegations of corruption and misconduct made against Deshmukh by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

“Those who have made these allegations against me are themselves accused of heinous offences such as murder, extortion. I needn”t open Pandora’s box,” Chaudhri told the bench on behalf of Deshmukh.

Param Bir Singh is facing cases of extortion and also inquiry by the ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau).

“Since the FIR (by the CBI), there have been more than 30 raids by the ED, CBI, and the Income Tax department. My son”s company, my Chartered Accountants are all being involved in the name of proceeds of crime. I want to appear before ED tomorrow but

ED is calling a bogey against me of not cooperating,” he said.

Lekhi, however, told the HC that while Deshmukh was telling the court that he was willing to co-operate with ED in its probe, he had not responded to a single summons issued to him by the central agency since June this year.

“He isn”t appearing but just giving replies. There is no unfairness, violation of due process (by ED),” Lekhi said.

Lekhi further said the ED was duty-bound to collect evidence in any case and bring the guilty to book. He said that Deshmukh had filed a plea seeking quashing of summons and proceedings but the high court could not get into the realm of an investigator and verify the truth of the allegations against Deshmukh at the present stage.

Lekhi said that Deshmukh was required under the law to respond to the summons issued to him by the ED.

“You (Deshmukh) might have been a senior government official at one point of time. But right now, you are a common man subject to the due process of law. You don’t have any privileges anymore,” Lekhi said.

He said when ED first issued a summons to Deshmukh, it had permitted him to send an authorised representative instead of making physical appearance but Deshmukh insisted on getting a copy of the ECIR registered against him before responding to the summons.

“He (Deshmukh) began nitpicking on language and expression used in the summons. He is a self-centred individual who thinks he is above the law,” Lekhi told the HC.

“In the next summons, the ED explained the situation to him and asked him to appear in person to help confirm the evidence collected,” he said.

The ASG also said that if Deshmukh was alleging malice, he must implead such persons as parties to his plea, whom he was accusing of being “murderers and extortionists.”

In his plea, Deshmukh also sought directions from the high court to permit him to submit documents, statements etc. electronically and urged the HC to direct the ED to not compel him to make a physical appearance before it.

Deshmukh also refuted the ED”s claims that while serving as home minister, he had misused his official position and through police officer Sachin Waze collected Rs 4.70 crore from various bars and restaurants across the city.

The high court closed all the arguments in the case and reserved its verdict on Deshmukh’s plea.

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