The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to approach the Bombay High Court seeking the early listing of his bail application in a money laundering case, Live Law reported.
The case is related to accusations made by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh that Deshmukh had asked some officers to extort Rs 100 crore every month from bars and restaurants in the city. Singh had made the allegations in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in March last year.
The Enforcement Directorate had arrested the Nationalist Congress Party leader on November 2. He has been in custody since then.
At Tuesday’s hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Deshmukh, told the Supreme Court that the former minister is 73 years old and suffers from medical problems.
“I only want my application to be heard,” Sibal said. “Let it be heard on reopening [after the court vacation].”
The Supreme Court, in its order, noted that Deshmukh had filed the bail plea before the High Court on March 25. It observed that the application had been listed before the court thrice but could not be taken due to lack of time.
“The petitioner [Deshmukh] is at liberty to file an application for early listing of his bail,” a bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and BV Nagarthana said. “We hope and trust that the matter will be expeditiously heard and that the application is taken on board and be heard expeditiously.”
On January 18, a special court in Mumbai had rejected Deshmukh’s bail plea, after which he moved the Bombay High Court. The former minister told the High Court that he was a “victim of gross persecution”.
On the other hand, the Enforcement Directorate argued that Deshmukh was the main conspirator in the money laundering case.
The central agency also alleged that Deshmukh had been unable to explain the source of his wealth and proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 1.71 crore that he received between February and March 2021.
While Deshmukh had denied the allegations against him, he resigned from the Maharashtra Cabinet on April 5, 2021, after the Bombay High Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a preliminary inquiry against him.
The Enforcement Directorate’s case is based on a first information report that the CBI filed in the matter.