Bombay High Court grants bail to former Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh in corruption case [12.12.2022]

The Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to former Maharashtra home minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Anil Deshmukh in a corruption case lodged by the CBI. However, he will not be released from jail soon as the court said its order will become effective only after ten days, so that the CBI can approach the Supreme Court to challenge the high court order till then.

The bench directed that Deshmukh be released on bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh along with sureties of like amount and asked him to cooperate with the probe. After the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sought a stay on effect of the bail order to approach the Supreme Court, the high court said the order will be effective after ten days.

A single-judge bench of Justice Makarand S Karnik had on December 8 reserved the order on Anil Deshmukh’s plea challenging a special CBI court’s order that denied him bail.

Challenging the special CBI court order, Deshmukh, 73, in his plea filed through advocates Inderpal Singh and Aniket Nikam, claimed that the trial court erred in refusing bail to him and that its order was mere “cut, copy and paste job” of contents in the CBI chargesheet. It added that the “approach adopted in the trial court order was perverse” and while the high court had considered his medical status while deciding his bail plea in the ED case, the trial court overlooked the same.

On October 4, the coordinate bench of the high court had granted bail to Deshmukh in the case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The high court had observed that prima facie, reliance could not be placed on the statement of dismissed Mumbai Police officer Sachin Waze. Deshmukh was arrested in a money laundering case by the ED in November last year.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, representing the CBI, said the probe as well as statements given by Waze and Deshmukh’s aides Sanjeev Palande and Kundan Shinde show that the NCP leader was “involved in corruption of highest level” that affected the governance of the state.

Singh reiterated that Deshmukh cannot be automatically granted bail in the CBI corruption case just because he was granted relief in a money laundering case lodged by the ED.

The ASG said that while the high court and the Supreme Court had refused relief to Deshmukh in his plea seeking quashing of the CBI FIR, default bail was also denied to him. He added that Deshmukh being an influential person could interfere with the ongoing probe.

The CBI had submitted that Anil Deshmukh had asked Sachin Waze to collect money from bars and restaurants in Mumbai. Of the nearly Rs 4.7 crore allegedly collected from bar owners, Waze took some of the amount to Kundan Shinde.

Senior advocate Vikram Chaudhari, appearing for Deshmukh, questioned the “quality of evidence” based on Waze’s statements as he has now been made an approver in the case.

Justice Karnik had begun hearing Deshmukh’s bail plea in the CBI case on December 6, wherein Chaudhari had told the bench that there was an “umbilical cord connection” between the CBI and ED cases and they were “interlinked”.

Chaudhari had stated that the bail order in the ED case had considered evidence in both the money-laundering case and the corruption case by the CBI, and had also considered the age and ailments of the applicant. “The HC bail order (October 4) in the ED case also said that in all probability, Deshmukh may not be convicted. He has suffered for over a year in incarceration and if he continues to remain in custody, it will be an injury to justice,” he argued.

13 Dec 2022