On Friday, a single-judge bench of Justice Makarand S Karnik said that it will hear Deshmukh’s plea on merits from December 6, after concluding that the matter can be heard on priority considering the health grounds raised by the petitioner.
Last week, the bench had adjourned the matter after the CBI counsel had urged the court to do so as Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, who was to appear for the central agency, was unwell.
Senior advocate Vikram Chaudhari, appearing for Deshmukh, submitted that the central agency was delaying the hearing in the case and sought an earlier date for hearing the bail plea. He pointed out that the 72-year-old NCP leader has been in custody for over a year and was suffering from various ailments. The bench had posted the matter for hearing to Friday, December 2.
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The CBI, in its response to the bail plea, had told the high court that granting bail in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case cannot be a ground for release on bail in a corruption case filed by it.
Last month, Deshmukh had approached the Bombay High Court, seeking regular bail in the CBI case after the special court rejected his bail application. The special court had said that the statement of the accused-turned-approver, dismissed police officer Sachin Waze, plays an important role at the stage of bail and cannot be overlooked.
On October 4, a single-judge bench of Justice N J Jamadar of the Bombay High Court had granted Deshmukh bail in a money laundering case filed by the ED. The High Court had observed that prima facie, reliance could not be placed on Waze’s statement.
Challenging the special CBI court order, Deshmukh, in his plea filed through advocates Inderpal Singh and Aniket Nikam, claimed that the trial court erred in refusing bail to him and that its order was mere “cut, copy and paste job” of contents in the CBI chargesheet. It added that the “approach adopted in the trial court order was perverse” and while the high court had considered his medical status while deciding his bail plea in the ED case, the trial court overlooked the same.
The central agency, in its response, had said the statements of Waze recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act could not be equated with his statements recorded before the magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the CBI case.
The ED probe into Deshmukh’s financial transactions is in line with a CBI probe into former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh’s allegations of corruption against the NCP leader. The CBI initiated a preliminary probe based on the April 5, 2021, high court order and registered an FIR on April 21, 2021.