THE Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday told a special court here that former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh cannot be granted default bail as the agency had filed a chargesheet in the money laundering case within the stipulated period of 60 days from his arrest. The agency submitted an affidavit before a special court designated to hear cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in response to a plea filed by Deshmukh seeking default bail on the ground that the court had not taken cognisance of the chargesheet. The ED stated that the question of the court taking cognisance of the chargesheet was not relevant for ascertaining the right of the accused person under section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code to default bail. The anti-money laundering agency urged the court to dismiss Deshmukh’s bail plea terming it “completely devoid of merits”.
The affidavit said that the concept of default bail cannot be considered once the chargesheet and supplementary chargesheet had been filed. “The supplementary prosecution complaint (charge sheet) against the applicant (Deshmukh) and 11 others was filed on December 29, 2021 that is within 60 days from the date of his arrest that is November 2, 2021,” the affidavit said. The question of cognisance is not relevant for ascertaining the right of default bail of the accused persons as under section 167 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (as) only the investigation needs to be completed within the stipulated period, the agency said. “Default bail cannot be granted merely on the ground that cognisance has not yet been taken within the statutorily prescribed period even though the report (charge sheet) and the complaint have been filed,” the affidavit said.
The special court will hear Deshmukh’s bail plea on January 7. Deshmukh was arrested by the ED on November 2 last year. He is currently in judicial custody. In a plea filed on Tuesday through advocate Aniket Nikam, Deshmukh said that the special court had not taken cognisance of the prosecution complaint (chargesheet) filed by the ED before remanding him to further judicial custody. Deshmukh said he had been in custody for 60 days, and since the court has not yet taken cognisance of the chargesheet, he should be granted default bail under the provisions of Section 167 of the CrPC. As per section 167 of the CrPC, if a chargesheet is not filed and its cognisance is not taken within 60 days from a person’s arrest, then he/she can seek default bail.
The ED had filed a 7,000-page supplementary chargesheet against Deshmukh and his sons on December 29 last year. The agency had earlier filed a chargesheet against 14 people, including Deshmukh’s private secretary (an additional collector-rank officer) Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde. The Enforcement Directorate had launched a probe against Deshmukh and others after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed an FIR against the senior NCP leader in April 2021 on charges of corruption and misuse of official position. The ED’s case is that while serving as State Home Minister, Deshmukh allegedly misused his official position and through Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze (now dismissed) collected Rs 4.70 crore from various bars in Mumbai. Waze is currently behind bars in the ‘Antilia’ bomb scare and Mansukh Hiran killing cases. As per the prosecution, Deshmukh and his family members owned several companies which were used to launder the money. Deshmukh, who resigned from the post of State Home Minister in April 2021, has repeatedly denied the charges against him.