The CBI has approached the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order granting bail to former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in a corruption case. The high court had on December 12 granted bail to the 73-year-old Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader in the case but said the order will be effective after 10 days, as the Central Bureau of Investigation had sought time to challenge it in the apex court.
The high court had said except for dismissed police officer Sachin Waze’s statement none recorded by the CBI indicated money was extorted from bar owners in Mumbai at the behest of the politician.
In its plea filed in the top court, the probe agency has claimed the high court “committed grave error” while granting bail to Deshmukh irrespective of the serious objections raised by the CBI both on the merits of the case as well as the effect his bail will have on the continuing investigation.
“The high court failed to appreciate that the economic offences are required to be treated as separate category of offences and bail in such offences is not required to be granted as a routine matter. Usually, social-economic offences have deep rooted conspiracies effecting the moral fiber of the society and causing irreparable harm, need to be considered seriously,” it said.
The CBI claimed the high court failed to appreciate that charge sheet filed by the agency does not merely rely on the statement of Sachin Waze, an accused-turned-approver, but is also based on other material evidences which establish commission of cognizable offence by Deshmukh.
“The High Court failed to appreciate that ascertaining veracity or otherwise of any statement of a witness is a matter of trial and the statement ought not to have been discarded at the stage of deciding on grant of bail to the respondent,” it said.
The agency claimed, “The High Court failed to appreciate that the version of Sachin Waze, accused-turned-approver, is corroborated by WhatsApp chats exchanged between Param Bir Singh (PW-30) and Sanjay Patil (PW-24) to the effect that money collected from the bar and orchestra owners was at the instance of the respondent (Deshmukh).” It said the high court committed “error” in holding that the evidence in the form of testimony of Waze cannot be the ground to prolong Deshmukh’s custody.
The CBI said in its plea that the high court also failed to appreciate that despite demitting the office of the home minister of Maharashtra, Deshmukh holds “considerable clout” in the state.
“There is every likelihood that he will command his authority by virtue of his high level political associations and connections. Thus, grant of bail to the accused respondent would be detrimental to the morale of already named witnesses and would be impediment for prospective witnesses to come forward,” it said.
As an interim relief, the CBI has sought an ex-parte stay on the high court order pending hearing of the plea filed in the apex court.
Deshmukh had earlier approached the high court after a special CBI court rejected his bail plea last month. He had sought bail both on medical grounds as well as on merits.
The veteran politician has been in jail since November last year after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case. In April this year, he was arrested by the CBI in the corruption case.
Deshmukh, who has denied the allegations levelled against him, is in judicial custody at Mumbai’s Arthur Road prison.
Deshmukh was granted bail by the high court last month in the ED case related to alleged money laundering. His bail plea in the corruption case was, however, rejected by the special CBI court, noting there was prima facie evidence against him.
Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh had, in March 2021, alleged that Deshmukh, the then home minister, had given a target to police officers to collect Rs 100 crore per month from restaurants and bars.
Former assistant police inspector Waze, arrested in the ‘Antilia’ bomb scare case of March 2021, too, had levelled similar allegations.
The high court had in April 2021 directed the CBI to carry out a preliminary inquiry. The CBI, based on this inquiry, registered an FIR against Deshmukh and others for alleged corruption and misuse of official power.
(This report has been published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. Apart from the headline, no editing has been done in the copy by ABP Live.)