Anil Deshmukh refused to cooperate with ED without a valid reason: HC
Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh has refused to co-operate in the investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) without any valid reason, the Bombay high court (HC) has observed in its detailed order, by which the petition filed by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was dismissed on Friday.
“The applicant, without any valid reason, has refused to co-operate with the investigation by not attending the summonses issued by the authorities,” said the division bench of justice Nitin Jamdar and justice Sarang Kotwal while rejecting Deshmukh’s plea.
“The applicant has failed to establish the case of legal and factual malice on the part of the respondent/directorate in proceeding with the investigation in question,” said the bench and rejected Deshmukh’s allegation that the money laundering case was initiated against him out of political vendetta.
ED has registered an enforcement case information report (ECIR) against Deshmukh on the basis of the April 21 first information report (FIR) registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The April 21 FIR has been registered against the NCP leader on the basis of the allegations made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh that Deshmukh had instructed certain officers, including dismissed assistant inspector Sachin Waze, to collect a monthly sum of ₹100 crore from various establishments such as bars, dance bars and hookah parlours in Mumbai.
ED has been issuing summons to Deshmukh since June 25, but he has not appeared before the agency so far.
On September 1, the former home minister had moved HC, questioning the repeated summons issued to him by ED and urged the court to allow him appear before the investigators through audio-video medium and produce documents sought by the agency through his representative. Apprehending arrest by ED, he had also sought protection from coercive steps.
HC, however, rejected Deshmukh’s claim that the issuance of summons to him by ED was a clear abuse of power by the agency’s officers concerned and the summons were being issued with mala fide intent, and that Singh, who levelled allegations of corruption against him, have been booked for more heinous crimes.
Instead, the court found force in submissions of additional solicitor general Anil Singh that while Deshmukh kept on proclaiming that he is ready and willing to co-operate, his conduct was entirely otherwise and for some reason or the other, he is avoiding attending ED office pursuant to the summons. “We find this submission as justified,” said HC. “If there are no mala fides and no illegality, then there is no question of not attending and cooperating with the investigation,” said the bench.
HC said issuance of summons is part of the investigation and HCs would not interfere and interdict a lawful investigation, unless exceptional circumstances exist. “There is no jurisdictional error in the issuance of summonses as they have been issued by the officers duly authorised under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act),” said the court.
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