Former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that the Enforcement Directorate was deliberately delaying the hearing on his plea to quash the summons issued by the central agency to him in an alleged money laundering case, reported The Indian Express.
Advocate Vikram Chaudhri, appearing for Deshmukh, made the argument after Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh sought an adjournment in the matter. Singh, who was representing the Enforcement Directorate, said that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta would like to address the court on the plea.
However, Chaudhri and Advocate Aniket Nikam, also appearing for Deshmukh, argued that the High Court should hear the case on Thursday itself. Deshmukh’s counsels urged for interim protection from any coercive action against the minister, reported PTI.
“This petition [ED seeking adjournment] demonstrates the hapless state of affairs,” Chaudhri said. “The tactics [used by ED] are deplorable.”
However, the court adjourned the case till September 29 and asked the Enforcement Directorate to respond to Deshmukh’s plea.
Deshmukh had moved the High Court on September 2 to quash the summons against him. The Enforcement Directorate has issued five summons to Deshmukh so far. But, the Nationalist Congress Party leader has not appeared before the central agency.
The central agency is investigating Deshmukh’s role in an alleged money laundering case based on a First Information Report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The CBI launched its investigation based on a Bombay High Court order passed in April. The court had directed inquiry into allegations that Deshmukh coerced police officers to extort money on his behalf from the owners of bars and restaurants in Mumbai. Former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh had levelled the allegations of extortion in March.
Singh had alleged that dismissed police officer Sachin Vaze told him that Deshmukh had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels.
The Enforcement Directorate has claimed that more than Rs 4 crore collected from bar owners between December and February was routed to Deshmukh’s charitable trust in Nagpur through four shell companies in Delhi.
Deshmukh, however, has not been named as an accused in the chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate. The agency cited Deshmukh’s failure to appear before it for interrogation as the reason for not naming him in the chargesheet.