No coercive steps with regard to attached assets of Anil Deshmukh till Jan 10: Bombay HC

Aarti Deshmukh, in the plea, claimed that while she was not opposed to the authority hearing the issue of provisional attachment of assets, the said body was not functioning as mandated by law.

Published: 10th December 2021 03:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th December 2021 03:41 PM   |  A+A-

Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh

Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh. (Photo | Anil Deshmukh Official Twitter)


MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Friday said the Enforcement Directorate's adjudicating authority can hear and pass final orders on the provisional attachment of assets of Maharashtra's former home minister Anil Deshmukh and his wife Aarti in a money laundering case, but no coercive action shall be taken with regard to these properties till January 10.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Madhav Jamdar directed the ED to submit its affidavit in reply to a petition filed by Aarti Deshmukh challenging the provisional attachment of their assets by the agency in connection with the money laundering case.

Anil Deshmukh, an NCP leader, was arrested in the case last month and is presently in judicial custody.

Aarti Deshmukh, in the plea, claimed that while she was not opposed to the authority hearing the issue of provisional attachment of assets, the said body was not functioning as mandated by law.

Her counsel Vikram Chaudhri had argued earlier that as per the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the adjudicating authority under the legislation should be a three-member panel comprising a chairperson and two members, one of whom should have law background.

"Presently, the authority comprises merely a single member who does not even have a law background,"  Chaudhri had argued.

Last week, when the plea was mentioned for urgent hearing, the bench had said the adjudicating authority could hear the proceedings, but it should not pass final orders.

The ED, however, later mentioned the plea and raised grievance that it was not heard by the HC before the order was passed.

On Friday, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the ED, told the court that the single member adjudicating authority had powers to hear the proceedings as per law.

"We (ED) are challenging the petition on maintainability," he said.

The court then said the authority can conduct the proceedings and pass final orders.

"Obviously, any such final order, if passed, shall be subject to the order passed by us (HC) in this petition. If a final order is passed by the adjudicating authority from today till January 10, 2022, then we make it clear that no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner vis-à-vis the properties," the bench directed.

The quasi-judicial authority established under the PMLA adjudicates on matters connected with attachment of properties.

Earlier this year, the central financial probe agency provisionally attached assets worth over Rs 4 crore belonging to Deshmukh and his family in connection with the money laundering case.

The ED had initiated a probe against Deshmukh after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed an FIR against the NCP leader following a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption and official misconduct made against him by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

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