ED resorting to selective disclosure to media to malign me: Anil Deshmukh to Bombay HC
Former home minister Anil Deshmukh informed the Bombay high court (HC) that he wanted to dispel the impression that he was running away and was willing to cooperate with the probe, provided it is undertaken with “fairness and objectivity” which is not the case. Hence, he was seeking protection from coercive action as he apprehended that he would be arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), when he responded in person.
Deshmukh was arguing for the quashing of proceedings arising out of the summons issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). He further submitted that the agency was making “selective disclosure” to the media to portray him in bad light before every court hearing so as to create a wrong public perception.
A division bench of justice Nitin Jamdar and justice Sarang Kotwal, while hearing the petition filed by Deshmukh, was informed by senior advocate Vikram Choudhri that apart from showing haste in issuing summons, despite the Supreme Court granting liberty to exhaust his legal remedies, ED had been resorting to a smear campaign against his client.
In the previous hearing on October 7, Choudhri had submitted that while the Apex court on July 30 had said that it would pass orders on Deshmukh’s petition seeking ‘no coercive action’ on August 3, ED had issued him a summons on the same evening and asked him to appear before it on August 2.
While making the submissions on Tuesday, Choudhri added that soon after the Apex court said that Deshmukh could approach HC on August 16, ED had again issued him a summons on the same day, without giving him a chance to pursue his legal remedies.
Choudhri further stated that ED could have only joined the probe under PMLA in connection with the first information report (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 21, provided there was some recovery of property. However, though there was no recovery, ED had filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) and started summoning him.
The bench was then informed that the agency was trying to malign his client by making selective disclosures to the media before every hearing to make it look as if he was running away. Choudhri added that ED was also using its Twitter handle to disclose such information, however, the fact was that he was willing to cooperate, provided there was a fair investigation which is monitored by the court and by persons not connected with the zonal Mumbai office of ED.
Choudhri then argued that as ED kept on issuing summons without reciprocating to any of Deshmukh’s responses, which sought list of documents, request for appearing through an authorised representative or through the audio-visual mode, he had a valid ground to be apprehensive of being arrested under the relevant sections of the PMLA if he responded in person to the summons and hence sought protection.
Due to paucity of time, Choudhri could not complete his arguments and the court adjourned hearing to Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the state filed a petition against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday in HC against the summons being issued to Maharashtra chief secretary Sitaram Kunte and director general of police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey asking them to appear before it this week. The petition is expected to be mentioned before the bench of justice Jamdar on Wednesday.