HC grants bail to Anil Deshmukh in CBI corruption case
Mumbai: The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday granted bail to former Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Anil Deshmukh in the corruption case registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 2021
Mumbai: The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday granted bail to former Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Anil Deshmukh in the corruption case registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 2021.
The 73-year-old lodged in Arthur Road jail in Central Mumbai will, however, not come out immediately, as the court has kept the bail order in abeyance for ten days – to enable the CBI to challenge it before the Supreme Court.
A single judge-bench of justice Makarand Karnik ordered Deshmukh to be released on a personal bond of ₹1 lakh and one or two sureties of the same amount. He has also been ordered to surrender his passport to the CBI and asked not to leave Mumbai without prior permission of the court, said his counsel, advocate Aniket Nikam.
Deshmukh was first arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on November 2, 2021. ED’s money laundering case against the NCP leader, registered on May 11 last year, was based on the FIR registered by the CBI on April 21, 2021, after former Mumbai police commissioner, Param Bir Singh accused him of trying to extort money from bars owners in Mumbai through some police officials, including dismissed assistant inspector Sachin Vaze.
In a letter written to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and others on March 20, 2021, Singh alleged that Deshmukh had instructed certain Mumbai police officers, including Vaze, to collect an amount of ₹100 crore every month from owners of bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
The HC noted that none of the witnesses except dismissed Mumbai police officer Sachin Vaze, has stated that the money was collected from bar owners at the behest of the then home minister. The court said it would not be proper to prolong Deshmukh’s incarceration merely on the statement of Vaze, especially since his career in police force was shrouded in controversies and he himself faces several serious criminal charges.
Besides, the court also took into consideration that 73 years old and suffering from multiple ailments. “The age and the medical history of the applicant is another circumstance which falls for consideration. The medical reports/certificates show that the applicant is suffering from chronic ailments,” said justice Karnik.
The agency claimed that Vaze had accordingly called a meeting of bar owners and between December 2020 and February 2021, collected ₹4.7 crore from the owners of orchestra bars in Mumbai and handed over the “extorted money” in two instalments to Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde.
CBI formally arrested Deshmukh on April 6 this year. The agency filed a chargesheet against him on July 12.
He had moved the high court for bail after the special CBI court on October 21 rejected his bail plea. Deshmukh had applied to the special CBI court for bail in the first week of October, soon after the HC granted him bail in ED’s money laundering case.
In his plea, Deshmukh had questioned the credentials of Singh and Vaze, claiming that both of them had taken a completely contrary stand before the Justice KU Chandiwal Commission, which enquired into Singh’s allegations against Deshmukh. The NCP leader had also relied heavily on the deposition given by the witnesses and Vaze before the Chandiwal Commission.
CBI had, however, claimed that the depositions of witnesses before the Chandiwal Commission had no legal sanctity, as it was not a commissioner appointed under the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952, and in any case the statements could not be relied upon at this stage.