Former Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Anil Deshmukh on Saturday skipped the Enforcement Directorate’s summons to him in connection with a money laundering case, ANI reported. He sought more time to appear before the agency.
Deshmukh’s lawyer Jaywant Patil told the news agency that he has submitted an application to the Enforcement Directorate, asking for documents based on which the former minister is to be questioned.
“We don’t have any knowledge about the line of investigation,” Patil said. “So we’re unable to appear for questioning. Now ED has to take a call on it.”
The probe agency issued the summons to Deshmukh hours after arresting his private secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde. They were booked under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court in Mumbai on Saturday sent Palande and Shinde to the custody of the Enforcement Directorate till July 1.
On Friday, the Enforcement Directorate conducted raids on Deshmukh’s Nagpur home as well as the properties of Shinde and Palande.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar accused the Enforcement Directorate of harassing Deshmukh, PTI reported.
“Earlier some [central] agencies had showered loving attention on the businesses of his [Deshmukh’s] son,” Pawar said. “As far as I know, they did not find anything. So out of frustration, there is an attempt to see if he can be harassed in any other way.”
Pawar added that Deshmukh was not the first leader to face action from the central agency. “A new trend of using power has been shown by those who are in power,” he said, in an apparent dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party. “There is no need to talk about that issue anymore. We are not at all worried about it.”
On the other hand, the BJP denied any political motive behind the summons issued to Deshmukh. “All these inquiries are going on as per direction of the [Bombay] High Court,” he said, according to PTI. There is no reason to find any political motive in them.”
In April, the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a First Information Report. A month later, the Enforcement Directorate also filed a money laundering case against the NCP leader, based on the FIR filed by the CBI.
Charges against Deshmukh
The Enforcement Directorate has reportedly been tracking Rs 4 crore that the agency suspects is part of the money collected by suspended Mumbai police officer Sachin Vaze.
On March 20, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had accused Deshmukh of extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in Mumbai. In a letter to Thackeray, Singh alleged that suspended police officer Sachin Vaze told him that Deshmukh had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels.
Vaze was suspended and sent to the custody of the National Investigation Agency for his alleged role in placing the explosives-laden vehicle at Carmichael Road, near the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani in Mumbai, on March 15. Two days later, Singh, who was handling the investigation, was transferred from his position to the low-key Home Guard department by the state government. Singh had made the allegations after his transfer.
Though Deshmukh has constantly denied any impropriety, he resigned from the state Cabinet on April 5 after the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into allegations against him. On April 8, the Supreme Court had dismissed the Maharashtra government and Deshmukh’s petitions to cancel the CBI inquiry against him.