Money laundering case: Court refuses bail to ex-Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh's aide
Shinde was arrested on June 26 by the Enforcement Directorate for his alleged role in a money laundering case in which the accused include Deshmukh and dismissed assistant police inspector Sachin Waze
MUMBAI: The statement of a former policeman cannot be "thrown out" at the stage of bail merely because he is not a person of "good conduct", noted a special PMLA court here in its order refusing bail to former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh's personal assistant Kundan Shinde.
Special PMLA Judge MG Deshpande had rejected Shinde's bail plea on December 7, and the detailed order was made available on Friday.
Shinde was arrested on June 26 by the Enforcement Directorate for his alleged role in a money laundering case in which the accused include Deshmukh and dismissed assistant police inspector Sachin Waze. Waze, in his statement to the ED, said that Deshmukh introduced him to Shinde during a meeting at the then home minister's official residence.
Waze also disclosed the manner in which he collected Rs 4.7 crore between December last year and February, 2021 at the behest of Deshmukh, adding that the collected amount was handed over to Shinde on multiple occasions.
The court said it is clear from the statement of Waze the said money, approximately Rs 4.7 crore, which he handed over to Shinde was illegal collection from various bar owners across Mumbai, and was nothing but proceeds of crime as defined under the provisions of PMLA Act.
However, Shinde's lawyer Ejaz Khan argued there was nothing against his client except statements and words of Waze, and that the dismissed policeman's statements cannot be believed as they are made with an "actuated malice" and without absolutely any corroboration. "This fact cannot be ignored at the stage of bail and the statement of Waze cannot be thrown out merely because he is not a person of good conduct as argued by Ejaz Khan, " the court said.
Conspiracy is always hatched in secrecy and direct evidence thereof, even during the course of trial, cannot be obtained, and inferences have to be drawn for the same, the judge said.
"Even if the argument of the advocate that Waze created, fabricated, imaginary false story and implicated the applicant is considered, yet a question remains how any person, including Waze, can build up or fabricate the story with such minute details regarding dates of meetings, dates of collection etc," the court observed.
It said that at this juncture, the statements under the provisions of PMLA Act, which have corroboration of the details in respect of money transfers, cannot be disbelieved. The court held there is a strong prima facie case which points out to the involvement of the applicant.
An offence under PMLA is very serious and bail applications have to be dealt with strictly considering the gravity, magnitude and the message which will be conveyed to law abiding people, the court said. The ED's case is that Deshmukh, while serving as home minister, misused his official position and collected Rs 4.7 crore from various bars and restaurants in Mumbai through Waze.
The money was allegedly laundered through the Nagpur-based Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha, an education trust controlled by Deshmukh's family. Deshmukh has refuted the allegations and has claimed the agency's whole case was based on malicious statements made by Waze.