MUMBIA: Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh feels that the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) investigation against him in an alleged money laundering case is not justified, and hence he is not joining the probe, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference here, Deshmukh's lawyer Kamlesh Ghumre also alleged that the ED's investigation looks more like "harassment" than a genuine probe.
He said the ED had also issued summons to Deshmukh's wife Aarti, asking her to appear before it on Wednesday in connection with the case, but she did not do so and wrote to the central agency that she was ready to cooperate with the probe via video conferencing.
The ED had earlier issued multiple summonses to Anil Deshmukh, asking him to record his statement.
However, the NCP leader (72), had skipped the summonses citing his "vulnerability" to COVID-19 as the reason for non-compliance.
He has instead offered the central agency to record his statement through video conferencing.
Deshmukh has also moved the Supreme Court seeking protection from any coercive action in the case.
The ED case against Deshmukh and others was made out after the CBI booked him in a corruption case related to allegations of at least Rs 100 crore bribery made by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh earlier this year.
"Deshmukh feels this investigation is not justified, hence he is not joining the investigation. Whatever documents the probe agency wants, it should at least tell us," advocate Ghumre said.
Although there are digital platforms and other ways, Deshmukh is being asked to directly join questioning, he said.
"ED's probe is looking like more of harassment and not a genuine investigation," he alleged.
The lawyer said that summonses were issued by the ED.
"But we have approached the Supreme Court for relief," the lawyer said.
Talking about the summons issued to the former minister's wife, he said, "She's a housewife and has no connection with the case. She has sent a letter (to the ED) stating that she is ready to co-operate with the probe via video conferencing and will send whatever documents are needed."
In his letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray after he was removed from the police commissioner's post, Param Bir Singh had alleged that Anil Deshmukh had asked (now dismissed) police officer Sachin Waze to extort over Rs 100 crore a month from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
"Param Bir Singh's allegations are not true. In fact, the high court has questioned Singh why he was silent for months," the lawyer said.
The Bombay High court has reserved the order on the plea seeking quashing of the FIR filed by the CBI.
"We can expect the orders anytime," he added.
Ghumre also alleged that the ED was selectively leaking information to the media.
He further said that Sachin Waze has not mentioned anywhere in the affidavit (filed before an inquiry commission) that he has given money to Deshmukh.
Waze, in his affidavit, has never said that he met Anil Deshmukh in February.
The affidavit mentioned that he had just met Deshmukh just once, Ghumre stated.
The ED has arrested Deshmukh's personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde in connection with the case.
They are currently in judicial custody.
Deshmukh had resigned as a minister in April after the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption.