The Supreme Court on Friday did not grant any protection from arrest to former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on his plea seeking protection from any “coercive action” in the money laundering case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar has scheduled the matter for hearing on August 3. “List this plea on August 3 along with connected cases, so that similar orders are passed in all cases with regard to no coercive action,” said the bench.
The ED had issued summons to Deshmukh, a Nationalist Congress Party leader, and his son Hrishikesh seeking their appearance. Deshmukh, who had skipped the previous summonses by the agency, had, in the plea to the top court, challenged these summonses and sought protection for both himself and his son.
Deshmukh has been accused of extortion from a bunch of Mumbai orchestra bars and money laundering, and the matter is being probed by the ED. It has been alleged that Rs 4.7 crore was collected as “extortion” from the orchestra bars by now-dismissed Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze allegedly on Deshmukh’s instructions. Later, this amount was transferred to Deshmukh’s Nagpur-based educational trust by his son, Hrishikesh. According to the allegation, the transaction was routed via two hawala operators and was showed as a “donation”.
The 71-year-old NCP leader is the president of the trust and his two sons, Salil and Hrishikesh, are trustees.
On May 11, a case was registered against the former minister and on June 25, the ED raided Deshmukh’s residences in Nagpur, Mumbai, and three other places. In April, the CBI had conducted raids at four premises of Deshmukh after registering an FIR against him in connection with the case.
Param Bir Singh, former Commissioner of Mumbai Police, in his letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleged that Deshmukh had indulged in “malpractices” and asked Waze to collect Rs 100 crore every month.
Earlier this week, the top court had adjourned the matter for a hearing on Friday and asked Deshmukh’s legal counsel to provide a copy of the plea to the ED and the Maharashtra government.