The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday opposed the plea of former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, seeking quashing of summons issued by the central agency, asking him to appear in a money laundering and corruption case. had gone.
It said the petition was not maintainable in the Bombay High Court as the agency had the “right to investigate” and collect evidence and book the culprits in any case.
The High Court has reserved the verdict on Deshmukh’s petition.
The ED said that despite the procedure for questioning and issuing summons in accordance with law in respect of the material allegedly seized from him, Deshmukh was reluctant to appear in person, indicating that he knew that he may be arrested because of “material against him”.
The agency further said that while it has the right to interrogate the suspect at the place and time at its discretion, Deshmukh cannot decide the course of investigation. No relief should be given to him as the investigation is in the preliminary stage and the intervention of the High Court would stall the entire process, as the Supreme Court had also refrained from giving any protection to Deshmukh.
The central agency, through Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi, was making presentations before a division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Sarang V Kotwal, which was hearing a petition filed by Deshmukh seeking summons issued by the ED. Cancellation was sought. Asked him to appear before him in the money laundering and corruption case.
The ED has issued at least five summons to Deshmukh asking him to appear before him. However, Deshmukh did not follow any of these.
The ED probe claimed that Deshmukh, as Maharashtra home minister, through now-sacked Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze, had illegally received “about Rs 4.7 crore in cash from various orchestra bar owners between December 2020 and February 2021″. were received”.
Deshmukh sought quashing of the summons and interim protection from coercive action as he feared arrest under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Senior advocate Vikram Choudhary and advocate Aniket Nikam, appearing for Deshmukh, had told the high court that they were ready to cooperate in the investigation, provided it is done with “fairness” and without “arbitrariness” and “vendetta”. .
Seeking relief, Choudhary argued that the ED had initiated proceedings against Deshmukh on the basis of claims made by those who are accused of “heinous crimes such as murder and extortion” and the court had to rely on it. Shouldn’t.
ASG Lekhi replied that the plea was “wrong” as the ED had only issued summons to Deshmukh under the PMLA, which stipulates the suspect’s personal presence in the ED office.
However, Deshmukh feared that he would be arrested if he appeared in person and approached the HC instead… indicating that he was hiding some information and wanted to stall and interfere with the investigation. ,” said the writer.
He said that if Deshmukh is making allegations of “maliciousness”, he should make those whom he was accusing of being “murderers and extortionists” party.
“He (Deshmukh) is not appearing but only giving reply. There is no unfairness, there is a violation of due process (by the ED). He cannot decide the course and method of investigation. Who is he? He may have been a senior government official at one point of time. But right now, he is a common man and has to follow due process of law and procedures, but he chose not to. There are no privileges anymore. There is no malpractice in the matter initiated by the agency,” argued Lekhi and sought dismissal of the petition.
After closing the submissions, the HC reserved its verdict on Deshmukh’s plea. The court will deliver its decision on the appeal in due course.