Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh is expected to be released free on Wednesday after the Bombay High Court refused to put a stay of execution on an order giving him bail in a corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He has been imprisoned since November 2021, when the Enforcement Directorate (ED) detained him in connection with an alleged money laundering case.
Deshmukh, 73, is being held in judicial custody at Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail after denying the charges leveled against him. On December 12, Justice M S Karnik granted bail to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, but the ruling was postponed for 10 days as the CBI sought time to appeal it in the Supreme Court. The investigation agency filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, but it will not be considered until January 2023 because the court is closed for vacation. On the CBI’s motion, the high court prolonged the stay till December 27.
On Tuesday, the central agency sought another extension.Deshmukh’s lawyers Aniket Nikam and Inderpal Singh claimed the CBI was trying to “overreach” the earlier order of the HC which had stated that under no circumstances another extension will be granted.”They are failing to make out any urgency in the Supreme Court, and coming here seeking stay. This cannot be permitted,” Nikam argued.
The vacation bench of the High Court, after hearing the arguments, said “no further extension can be granted”.Deshmukh might be released on bond on Wednesday, according to his attorneys, if the judge refuses to prolong the stay. While granting bail to Deshmukh, the high court noted that, except from the confession of fired police officer Sachin Waze, no testimony recorded by the CBI suggested that money was being extorted from Mumbai bar owners at the direction of the NCP leader.
The CBI arrested him in a corruption case in April of this year. The high court granted him bail in the ED case in October. In March 2021, former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh said that Deshmukh, the then-home minister, had set an objective for police personnel to collect Rs 100 crore every month from Mumbai’s restaurants and bars.
The NCP welcomed the court’s ruling on Tuesday. Mahesh Tapase, the NCP’s main spokesperson, stated in a release,It has been proved that Anil Deshmukh was wrongfully framed in a fake case and he will come out of the jail tomorrow (Wednesday) after spending more than one year behind bars. We will take his case to the people and make them aware of the injustice meted out to him.” The allegations against Deshmukh were politically motivated and no “money trail” was found, he said.“The party extends its support to Deshmukh and we will continue to fight against the people who falsely framed him,” Tapase added.