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Anil Deshmukh's ED custody extended till November 15

The probe agency had arrested the former Maharashtra home minister on Nov 1 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act
Anil Deshmukh
Anil Deshmukh
File picture

Our Bureau, PTI   |   Mumbai   |   Published 12.11.21, 05:11 PM

 A special court here on Friday extended the Enforcement Directorate custody of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh till November 15 in an alleged money laundering case.

Opposing the ED's demand of extension of custody, Deshmukh's lawyer questioned why it had not yet arrested dismissed police officer Sachin Waze who is also an accused in the case, and why IPS officer Param Bir Singh was never summoned for probe. The ED had arrested the NCP leader on November 1 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. A holiday court on November 6 had sent Deshmukh (71) in judicial custody after rejecting the ED's plea seeking an extension of remand.

A day later, the Bombay High Court set aside the order and sent Deshmukh in ED custody till November 12.

On Friday, he was produced before special PMLA court judge H S Sathbhai, who extended the custody till November 15.

Special public prosecutor Shriram Shirsat told the court that Deshmukh was "evasive and giving vague answers", so further custody was needed.

Sachin Waze had played a key role in collecting bribes from bar owners in Mumbai at Deshmukh's behest, and the ED was in the process of seeking permission from the concerned court to record Waze's statement in this case, the prosecutor said.

Further custody of Deshmukh was needed to confront him with new evidence which may emerge from Waze's statement, the ED said.

Waze, then assistant police inspector, was arrested in March 2021 following the discovery of an SUV with explosives near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's south Mumbai residence, and the subsequent death of businessman Mansukh Hiran.

Opposing the extension of remand, Deshmukh's lawyer Vikram Chaudhri said as per the ED, Waze was among main accused, but it never arrested him.

"According to them Waze played a key role....They filed a charge sheet without arresting him, he is an accused only on paper," the lawyer said.

He also asked why the ED has not summoned former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, who had alleged that Deshmukh, as home minister, had asked Waze to collect Rs 100 crore a month from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.

"Why hasn't his statement been recorded," Deshmukh's lawyer asked.

The probe agency was acting with malice, advocate Chaudhary alleged.

He also argued that before the high court, both the parties had agreed that the ED should get Deshmukh's custody for only four days.

But the prosecution said that the central agency needed further remand in light of new facts that emerged from interrogation regarding transfers and postings of police officials during Deshmukh's tenure. The agency has also summoned, on Saturday, a private person who used to handle certain prestigious projects in Deshmukh's constituency, and the NCP leader will be confronted with new evidence that might come to light from his questioning, it said.

Meanwhile, NCP MP Supriya Sule met Deshmukh during his appearance before the PMLA court on Friday. Sule left after meeting him.

The ED filed a money laundering case against Deshmukh after the CBI registered a corruption case based on Param Bir Singh's accusations.

The ED's case is that Deshmukh, through Waze, collected Rs 4.70 crore from various bars and restaurants in Mumbai, and the money was later transferred to Deshmukh's educational or charitable trusts through a few Delhi-based firms.

His two aides -- Kundan Shinde and Sanjeev Palande -- were also arrested in the case and are in judicial custody now.

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