Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh has been asked to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning early next week after he sought a fresh date for appearance in a money laundering case related to an alleged multi-crore bribery-cum-extortion racket that led to his resignation in April, officials said.
The 71-year-old Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was asked to depose before the investigating officer at the agency office in Ballard Estate here by 11 am.
However, he did not turn up and instead sent his lawyers to the ED office seeking case documents and a fresh date for appearance.
Official sources said Deshmukh has now been asked to appear next week by Tuesday. Earlier, lawyers of Deshmukh handed over a letter written by the politician to the investigators.
"He (Deshmukh) will not appear today. We have not been given documents related to this case and we have given a letter to ED demanding these documents and case details in which he is to be questioned. We will furnish our reply accordingly," lawyer Jayvant Patil told reporters outside the ED office.
The central agency early on Saturday arrested his personal secretary Sanjeev Palande (51) and personal assistant Kundan Shinde (45) after it carried out raids against them and Deshmukh in Mumbai and Nagpur on Friday.
The aides were brought to the ED office for questioning following the searches and arrested subsequently. They were sent to ED custody till July 1 by a special PMLA here.
The ED case against 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 (CBI) to look into the allegations of bribery made against Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Deshmukh, who had resigned from his post in April following the allegations, has denied any wrongdoing.
Senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Singh was shunted out 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.
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 Deshmukh had asked 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 4.7 crore "bribe" in cash in a three-month period to be handed over to Deshmukh through police officials.
Deshmukh was the home minister in the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra headed by Thackeray.
In his letter, Singh also alleged that Palande was present when Deshmukh had asked Waze to extort money.
Palande and 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 booked 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".
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First Published: Jun 26 2021 | 8:32 PM IST