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Whether statements of co-accused can be used against another warrants consideration : Bombay High Court

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The Bombay High Court has observed that here was a probability Deshmukh would not be convicted in the case, while they were granting bail to the former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in the money laundering case against him.

Justice NJ Jamadar said that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had primarily counted on statements of dismissed Mumbai cop Sachin Waze who was co-accused in the case.

Waze in his statement had said that an amount of ₹1.71 crores was transferred to Maharashtra Home minister during the months of February and March, 2021 allegedly extorted from the bars owners through his personal assistant, Kundan Shinde.

The Court said that the statements ex-facie cannot bear the weight of the allegation of generation of proceeds of crime out of the alleged predicate offence of exercise of influence over the transfers and postings of the police officials.

The Court said that these statements ex-facie lack the element of certainty as to the source, time and place. They prima facie appears to be hear-say.

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The Court has concluded that the witness statements collected by ED allegedly in support of the allegations failed to point out with certainty what exact criminal act was committed by Deshmukh and how that helped him generate the proceeds for crime.

It also opined that Waze’s tenure as a cop was controversial.

Further, Waze’s statements along with those of former IPS officer Param Bir Singh were purportedly made after learning or hearing that money changed hands.

The Court took note of the fact that Waze was an approver in CBI’s case, and in the money laundering case, ED had given its no objection to the grant of Waze’s request to become an approver .

The Court noted that as of now, the status of Mr. Sachin Waze is a co-accused and that the statements of co-accused can be used against another, may warrant consideration.

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CBI had booked Deshmukh and others on the basis of a complaint filed by Advocate Dr. Jaishri Patil, alleging them of indulging in corrupt practices during the period between 2019 and 2021.

The probe followed the directions issued by the Bombay High Court on April 5, 2021, while hearing the petition of former Commissioner of Mumbai Police, Param Bir Singh.

The ED then initiated money laundering proceedings against the former Minister on the basis of CBI’s FIR. Deshmukh was arrested by ED in November, 2021.

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The NCP leader was sent to ED custody till November 15. He was later remanded to the judicial custody, where he remains till date.

Deshmukh was represented by Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhari with Advocate Aniket Nikam, while Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, along with Advocates Aditya Thakker, Shreeram Shirsat and Amandeep Sra, appeared for ED.

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