The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an order by the Bombay High Court granting bail to former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in a money laundering case, Bar and Bench reported.
The Enforcement Directorate had moved the Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court on October 4 granted bail to the Nationalist Congress Party leader. The High Court had stayed its order till October 13 to allow the central agency to file an appeal before the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said in its order that the observations made by the High Court in the bail order should not influence the trial.
“Let us keep the merits aside, here is a man aged 73 years, he has multiple ailments...suppose we say we sustain the order on ground of health and set aside other observations of the High Court,” Chandrachud observed during the hearing, reported Live Law.
The Enforcement Directorate objected to the High Court’s observations that Deshmukh was unlikely to get convicted based on the evidence so far, reported Live Law.
The bench said that the High Court might have been constrained to make the observation as Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act requires that a court should be prima facie satisfied about the innocence of an accused persons while granting bail.
The Enforcement Directorate also said that the High Court drew incorrect conclusions regarding dismissed police officer Sachin Vaze, who was co-accused in the case before turning an approver, reported Bar and Bench
Justice NJ Jamadar of the Bombay High Court had said that Vaze’s statements against Deshmukh prima facie appeared to be hearsay. The dismissed police officer had alleged that an amount of Rs 1.71 crore was extorted during the months of February and March, 2021 from bars owners and handed over to Deshmukh’s personal assistant.
The NCP leader was taken into custody in November after the Enforcement Directorate had booked him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The central agency began an investigation against him after former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh accused him of coercing police officers to extort money from the owners of bars and restaurants in the city.
Despite the bail order, Deshmukh remains in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail on account of a related case by the Central Bureau of Investigation against him.
While Deshmukh denied the allegations against him, he had resigned from the Maharashtra Cabinet on April 5, 2021, after the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry against him.
Deshmukh had sought bail in the case in March. On September 26, the Supreme Court had told the High Court to decide on Deshmukh’s bail plea by the end of the week. Two days later, the Central Bureau of Investigation told a special court in Mumbai that it obtained sanction from the Maharashtra government to prosecute Deshmukh in the case.