Maharashtra’s former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh skipped summons by probe agency Enforcement Directorate or ED for questioning today in a money laundering case related to an alleged multi-crore bribery-cum-extortion racket that led to his resignation in April, officials said. He sought more time, they added.
The 71-year-old Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was asked to depose before the investigating officer of the case at the agency office in the Ballard Estate area in Mumbai at 11 am, they said.
Mr Deshmukh however, skipped the summons of the probe agency. His lawyers have submitted an application seeking time to appear before the ED.
The Enforcement Directorate will consider the application and give a fresh date, officials said.
The central probe agency arrested his personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde late last night after it had carried out raids against them and Anil Deshmukh in Mumbai and Nagpur.
The aides were brought to the ED office for questioning following the searches and arrested subsequently.
They will be produced before a special court for cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Mumbai today where the probe agency will seek their remand for custodial interrogation, officials said.
The ED case against Anil Deshmukh and others was made out after the CBI first carried out a preliminary inquiry followed by a regular case being filed on the orders of the Bombay High Court.
The court had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI to look into the allegations of bribery made against Mr Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Anil Deshmukh, who had resigned from his post in April following the allegations, has denied any wrongdoing.
Senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Param Bir Singh was removed from his post after investigators revealed the role of assistant police inspector Sachin Waze in the stationing of an explosive-laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai residence that triggered a terror scare.
Sachin Waze has since been dismissed from service.
In his letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray after he was removed from the police commissioner’s post, Singh had alleged that Anil Deshmukh had asked Sachin Waze to extort over Rs 100 crore a month from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
According to the ED, about 10 bar owners in Mumbai recorded statements before it alleging that they had paid about Rs 4 crore “bribe” in cash in a three-month period to be handed over to Anil Deshmukh through police officials.
Anil Deshmukh was the Home Minister in the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra headed by Uddhav Thackeray.
In his letter, Param Bir Singh also alleged that Sanjeev Palande was present when Anil Deshmukh had asked Sachin Waze to extort money.
Mr Palande and Mr Shinde had been questioned by the CBI in the past.
The role of the two in the operation of certain shell firms is being looked into by the ED.
The CBI charged Anil Deshmukh and others under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections related to criminal conspiracy and the section of the Prevention of Corruption Act for “attempt to obtain undue advantage for improper and dishonest performance of public duty”.