Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday raided the premises of former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in Nagpur and Mumbai in connection with an alleged money laundering case. The raids are being carried out under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the locations include Deshmukh’s residence in Nagpur, officials said.Also Read - CBI Summons Former Maharashtra Minister Anil Deshmukh Over Corruption Allegations
The ED also recorded the statement of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Raju Bhujbal on Thursday in the case against Deshmukh. Also Read - SC Dismisses Pleas Of Maharashtra Govt, Anil Deshmukh Against CBI Enquiry On Parambir Singh's Allegations
The central probe agency registered a case of money laundering against Deshmukh and others last month after studying a recent CBI FIR. Also Read - Sachin Vaze Writes Letter To NIA, Says Former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh Sought Rs 2 Crore From Him
The ED case came about after the CBI first carried out a preliminary enquiry followed by filing a regular case on the orders of the Bombay High Court that asked it to look into the allegations of bribery made against Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Deshmukh, who is also facing a CBI probe over charges of corruption and misconduct, told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that the allegations against him had caused “heartburn” in the entire state police machinery.
Deshmukh’s counsel, senior advocate Amit Desai, told a bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar that Deshmukh had been publicly shamed because of being subjected to the probe, even though there did not exist any adverse material against him in the CBI’s FIR.
Desai was making submissions in support of a plea filed by Deshmukh, seeking that the FIR registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) be quashed.
The CBI is probing a case of corruption and misconduct on part of Deshmukh in the aftermath of such allegations levelled against him by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
“Not a single person has come to say he was asked for money. There is no victim in the case,” Desai claimed.
He said contents of Singh’s letter could at the most generate “some suspicion, or whispers” in the corridors of the police commissioner’s office. The same certainly did not warrant an inquiry, he said.
“Deshmukh is definitely the devil here without anything in the FIR against him. He has been shamed, but without any proper material. There is nothing against him in the FIR,” Desai said.
“Transfers and postings are policy issues. They (CBI) are getting into the whole process. The allegations have created a heartburn within the entire police force,” he said.
The HC will continue hearing Deshmukh’s plea next week.
The probe was initiated after a high court bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta directed the CBI to initiate a preliminary enquiry against Deshmukh, based on a criminal complaint lodged at a local police station by lawyer Jaishri Patil.
The lawyer had moved a PIL in the HC, seeking action on the complaint filed by her.
She had referred to the allegations made by Singh against Deshmukh in her plea, and also attached a copy of a letter written by the IPS officer to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, wherein he had made the allegations against the NCP leader.
Among other things, the CBI’s FIR says Deshmukh had knowledge of the reinstatement of former assistant police inspector Sachin Waze, and the then minister exercised undue influence on the transfers and postings of state police officials.
The Maharashtra government had also filed a plea in the HC, seeking that two paragraphs from the said FIR be deleted. These paragraphs, numbered 4 and 5, deal with Waze’s reinstatement and Deshmukh’s influence on the transfers and postings.
Waze, arrested by the NIA in the case of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house in February and the subsequent murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, was dismissed from police service last month.
The state’s counsel, senior advocate Rafique Dada, argued in the HC that by delving into the issues of Waze’s reinstatement and Deshmukh’s influence on transfers and postings, the CBI went beyond the scope of the high court’s order.
Dada earlier also said the CBI was using the inquiry against Deshmukh to gain backdoor entry into the cases of Waze and IPS officer Rashmi Shukla, that the Maharashtra government was already probing.
On the other hand, the CBI’s counsel, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, maintained that the investigating agency had been well within the law in probing all issues of corruption related to Deshmukh.
On Wednesday, the HC closed all arguments on the state’s plea and reserved its verdict on the same.
It then began hearing Deshmukh’s plea that seeks quashing of the entire FIR.
While Dada had earlier told the HC that the Maharashtra government was not opposed to the CBI inquiry per se, and it was only objecting to the two paragraphs, Desai said the CBI had been wrong in carrying out its probe without the Maharashtra government’s consent.
Desai said mere allegations made by Param Bir Singh did not warrant a probe against Deshmukh.
Singh had also claimed in his letter that Deshmukh asked several police officers, including Waze, to extort money from bars and other establishments.
“The court will have to consider whether Param Bir Singh’s letter, which is attached to Patil’s complaint, required any directions by the court,” Desai said.
The CBI, meanwhile, said it will not ask the Maharashtra government for papers related to the case of IPS officer Rashmi Shukla until the HC pronounces its verdict on the state’s plea challenging the two paragraphs in its FIR.
The Mumbai cyber police last month recorded the statement of Shukla in connection with a case of illegal phone tapping and alleged leaking of sensitive documents related to police postings.
(With inputs from PTI)