The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opposed any protection from arrest to former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh’s son Hrishikesh.
Since Hrishikesh is an influential person and the investigation into his transactions has just begun, he may influence the investigation and witnesses and/or obfuscate the trail of proceeds of crime yet to be identified, the ED said. The agency said the risk of Hrishikesh evading trial cannot be ruled out.
The ED said the likelihood of the accused tampering with the evidence is high because he is aware of the direction of the investigation.
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“This case involves a huge amount of proceeds of crime which may further increase, on further revelation from the investigation. If he is enlarged on anticipatory bail at this stage, the evidence and the investigation may be obfuscated or destroyed,’ the ED said.
The agency further stated that the plea needs to be treated with huge caution and due application of mind as economic offences are considered grave.
According to the agency, Hrishikesh was deeply involved in laundering money obtained by misuse of the home minister’s office.
The ED’s case against Deshmukh is based on an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on allegations by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Singh alleged that Deshmukh asked former Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze and other police officers to collect Rs100 crore every month from restaurants and bars in Mumbai as extortion money. This money, according to the ED, was laundered away through Hawala channels into companies and trusts run by Deshmukh and his family.
Hrishikesh’s plea for anticipatory bail stated that the “entire proceedings are actuated with malice” and that the “number 1” indicated by Vaze in his statement to the ED was not Deshmukh but former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
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“Allegations have been twisted against Hrishikesh and his father and the investigations have commenced in a shady manner, warranting this court’s interference to remedy the wrong committed against him,” says the plea.
The plea had said that there is a “witch-hunt at the instance of certain vested inimical interests, and some blatantly false allegations have been levelled by those persons (Vaze and Singh) who have absolutely no credibility, honour or pride. These unscrupulous persons are themselves knee-deep in several rackets of extortion, fraud and even murder, it said.
“The alleged transactions including an asset created by Anil Deshmukh relate back to about 15 years ago when Hrishikesh was merely a teenager. In such circumstances, it would be preposterous to assume that the applicant has any role to play in the commission of any offence whatsoever.”
“Viewed from any perspective, it is apparent that the accusations in the CBI case (which forms the scheduled/ predicate offences for the purpose of the present PMLA case), relate to alleged abuse of position by Anil Deshmukh as Home Minister. However, the investigations that the Enforcement Directorate is now undertaking span over several years prior to that tenure. Therefore, it would be a matter of grave and alarming concern as to whether the Enforcement Directorate can expand the scope of proceeds of crime for which there is no schedule or predicate offence in existence.”
Anil Deshmukh was arrested by the ED on November 1 after he went to the ED office. He was nowhere to be found until then and the agency alleged that he was evading questioning as he refused to appear before them even after receiving many summonses. Hrishikesh, too, had been summoned by the agency six times but he had failed to appear before them until now.