Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh moved the Bombay High Court on Thursday, seeking to quash the Enforcement Directorate’s summons issued to him in connection with a money laundering case registered against him, and that the probe into the case be handed over to an SIT of ED officers outside Mumbai. He also sought that his statement be recorded by the ED through electronic mode.
Deshmukh’s application came up for hearing before a single bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere. However, Justice Dere recused herself from hearing the application without assigning any reason and said, “Not before me.” The application will be heard by another bench in due course of time.
Deshmukh in his application sought that the HC quash and set aside the summons issued to him from time-to-time by the central agency.
The NCP leader in his plea also requested the HC for a direction to the ED to record his statement and submit all relevant documents through the electronic mode. He also sought a direction for the probe into the case to be handed over to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of ED officers outside the Mumbai zonal office.
The Enforcement Directorate had initiated a probe against Deshmukh and his associates after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lodged an FIR against him on April 21 this year on charges of corruption and misuse of official position.
The ED’s case is that while serving as the state home minister, Deshmukh allegedly misused his 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 the Nagpur-based Shri Sai Shikshan Sansthan, an educational trust controlled by Deshmukh’s family. The ED has till now issued five summons to Deshmukh, asking him to appear before it for questioning. However, Deshmukh skipped all the five summons, saying he would be seeking appropriate remedy available under law.
Deshmukh last month approached the Supreme Court against the summons and sought protection from arrest. The apex court had, however, refused to grant any relief and said Deshmukh had alternate remedies. The NCP leader then approached the HC, challenging the summons.
The ED has so far arrested two persons – Sanjeev Palande (additional collector-rank official who was working as Deshmukh’s private secretary) and Kundan Shinde (Deshmukh’s personal assistant) – in the case. Palande has also moved the high court, challenging the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered against him by the ED. His plea will be taken up for hearing by a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar in due course of time.
The ED last month submitted its prosecution complaint (equivalent to a charge sheet) against the duo before a special court in Mumbai. The CBI had lodged the FIR against Deshmukh after it conducted a preliminary enquiry against him following an order from the HC on April 5. Deshmukh resigned from the post of state home minister the same day, but has denied any wrongdoing.