Former Maharashtra home minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday once again skipped the summons of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) citing Covid pandemic, in connection with its probe into the allegations of the alleged bribery. He said that he was ready to join the probe through any "video or audio" medium.
Deshmukh had skipped the ED summons last week also following searches at his residence in Nagpur. He had sought more time to appear before the financial probe agency.
In his three page letter to the ED, Deshmukh said, "I am a septuagenarian, about 72 years of age, suffering from various co-morbidities including hypertension and cardiac problems, etc. I have already exposed my person to some extent on June 25 in my long interaction with you spanning over several hours during the course of the search and recording my statement. Thus, it may not be prudent or desirable to appear in person today and I am sending my authorised representative."
The NCP leader also said that he would furnish all information and documents sought by the ED after the agency provided him a copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) filed by it in the case. He further mentioned that the ED summons "do not clarify" the purpose of his personal appearance before it.
On June 26, the ED arrested Deshmukh's personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde in connection with an alleged 'hafta' case. In its remand copy of the two officials of Deshmukh, the ED said that over Rs 4 crore was collected from bar owners between December 2020 and February 2021 was routed to Deshmukh's charitable trust in Nagpur, through four shell companies in Delhi.
Deshmukh (72), is facing an ED investigation on the basis of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case as the fallout of the allegations made in a letter penned by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, who is now the Commandant-General of Home Guards.
Singh had alleged in his letter to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray in March that Deshmukh had fixed a collection target of Rs 100 crore per month for sacked assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze, who was the then head of the Crime Intelligence Unit of the elite Crime Branch-CID of the Mumbai Police. Thereafter, Singh had approached the Supreme Court which directed him to go to Bombay High Court where the CBI was asked to conduct a preliminary enquiry.
Meanwhile, Vaze was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for the twin cases of planting of an SUV Scorpio with 20 gelatin sticks and a threat note near Antilia, the home of Reliance Industries Ltd Chairman Mukesh Ambani, followed by the murder of Thane-based owner of the SUV, Mansukh Hiran.