The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in a money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The court, however, stayed the order till October 13 to enable the ED to file an appeal against bail.
Two components of credits in the account of a trust controlled by the Deshmukh family, flagged by the ED, were not “proceeds of crime,” the court noted in the order.
The Nationalist Congress Party leader who was arrested on November 2, 2021, is also facing a corruption case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Justice N J Jamadar in his order said the bail plea had been allowed and Deshmukh shall be released on a bond of Rs 1 lakh.
But the court stayed the order till October 13 as Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said the ED would approach the Supreme Court to challenge the bail order.
Deshmukh, who was a minister in the previous coalition government of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, is lodged in Arthur Road jail in Mumbai.
The ED began its probe against Deshmukh after the CBI registered a case against him over allegations of extortion made by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
The ED claimed that Deshmukh misused his official position and collected Rs 4.70 crore from various bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
The money was channelled to Nagpur-based Shri Sai Shikshan Sansthan, an educational trust controlled by the Deshmukh family, it alleged.
But the high court noted in the order on Tuesday that two components of credits in the trust’s account were not “proceeds of crime”.
“The third component (of credit) depends on the statement of Sachin Waze which after discussion this court has held that it falls in favour of the applicant (Deshmukh),” the court said.
He was also giving Deshmukh the benefit of a proviso of section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the judge added. As per this provision, a court can grant bail if an accused is a woman, or if he is ailing.
The high court instructed that Deshmukh shall not tamper with evidence when released. He shall attend the trial on every date and surrender his passport, it added.
IPS officer Param Bir Singh had in March 2021 alleged that Deshmukh, then home minister, had given a target to police officers to collect Rs 100 crore per month from restaurants and bars in Mumbai.
Former assistant police inspector Waze, arrested in the Antilia bomb scare case in March 2021, too had levelled similar allegations.
The high court in April 2021 directed the CBI to carry out a preliminary inquiry. The CBI, based on this inquiry, registered an FIR against Deshmukh and his associates for alleged corruption and misuse of official power.
During the arguments, Deshmukh’s lawyers Vikram Chaudhari and Aniket Nikam argued that considering his age (72), health and the fact that he had no criminal antecedents he should be granted bail. The ED had said that he could receive treatment in jail hospital.
The Supreme Court had earlier asked the HC to expedite the hearing on his bail plea as it was pending for six months.