Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh is likely to walk out of jail on Wednesday as the Bombay High Court has refused to extend its stay on an order granting him bail in a corruption case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
He has been in jail since November 2021 after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested him in an alleged money laundering case.
Deshmukh, 73, who has denied the allegations levelled against him, is in judicial custody at the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai.
Justice M S Karnik had granted bail to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader on December 12, but stayed the order for 10 days as the CBI sought time to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
The probe agency moved the apex court but the appeal would be heard only in January 2023 as the court is closed for vacation.
Last week, the high court had extended the stay till December 27 on the CBI’s request.
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”. With the court refusing to extend the stay, Deshmukh could be released on bail on Wednesday, his lawyers told to agencies.
The high court, while granting bail to Deshmukh, had noted that except for dismissed police officer Sachin Waze’s statement, no testimony recorded by the CBI indicated that money was being extorted from bar owners in Mumbai at the behest of the NCP leader.
Deshmukh approached the high court after a special CBI court rejected his bail plea last month. He sought bail both on medical grounds and merits of the case.
In April this year, the CBI arrested him in a corruption case. In October, the high court had granted him bail in the ED case. Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh 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 in Mumbai.
Former assistant police inspector Waze, who was arrested in the case of an explosives-laden vehicle found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house in Mumbai last year, also levelled similar allegations.
The high court in April 2021 directed the CBI to carry out a preliminary inquiry. Based on this inquiry, the CBI registered an FIR against Deshmukh and others for alleged corruption and misuse of official powers. The NCP on Tuesday welcomed the court’s decision.
In a statement, NCP’s chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said, “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.