The Bombay High Court on Monday said that except for the statements of dismissed police officer Sachin Vaze, no other evidence in the case has indicated that former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was involved in corruption, reported Bar and Bench.
The court made the observation while granting bail to Deshmukh in a corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. It, however, stayed its order for 10 days to allow the Central Bureau of Investigation to file an appeal before the Supreme Court.
“It has to be borne in mind that Vaze was a suspect and accomplice who has been granted pardon and has turned approver,” Justice NJ Jamadar said in his order. “To prolong the custody of the applicant [Deshmukh] on the basis of these materials may not be sound.”
The case is based on former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh’s statement accusing Deshmukh of extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in Mumbai.
Vaze, who was once a co-accused in the case, turned approver in May. He had claimed that police officials collected Rs 1.71 crore from bar owners in February 2021 and March 2021, and the money was later handed over to Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde.
On Monday, Justice Jamadar noted that Deshmukh was granted bail by the court in a separate money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate in connection to the allegations of corruption.
“The bail granted in ED case, despite the rigours of the PMLA [Prevention of Money Laundering Act], cannot be overlooked,” Justice Jamadar said, according to Bar and Bench. “Though I have not taken into consideration the observations made in the PMLA bail case.”
He also said it is unlikely that the trial in the case will be completed any time soon as the Central Bureau of Investigation is yet to complete its inquiry on the aspect of the reinstatement of Vaze and Deshmukh’s interference in the transfer of police officials.
“The CBI may proceed with the investigation but not at the cost of the continued incarceration of the applicant,” Justice Jamadar said in the order. “Deshmukh appears to have roots in society and the possibility of fleeing away from justice seems remote.”
The court also noted that the 73-year-old suffers from multiple ailments and had no criminal antecedents.