By LE Desk

Mumbai, May 7: The Bombay High Court has refused to give protection from arrest to former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh without hearing the CBI.

This was after advocate Amit Desai, appearing for Anil Deshmukh, sought quashing of the FIR registered by the CBI last month. 

During the hearing, CBI lawyer and Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said he received the copy of Deshmukh’s plea only on Wednesday night and needed time to go through it and file his reply, India Today reported.

Desai said that he had sent the petition on Tuesday but did not want to make that a bone of contention. Desai said right now he only wants interim protection.

However, the division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale said that they cannot hear Desai without the CBI being ready with its response. Singh said that he needed four weeks to file a reply.

Desai said there is urgency for interim protection. He added, “If they need time to reply, they can do that, but until then, there should be a statement that my client (Deshmukh) will not be arrested.”

However, the High court refused to protect Deshmukh and said he can approach the vacation bench if there is any extreme urgency. If he is moving the vacation bench, he should give a 48-hour notice to the CBI.

The CBI had conducted raids at several locations, including Deshmukh’s residence in Nagpur, after registering the FIR in April.

The CBI had booked Deshmukh under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code’s section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) over a month after former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh accused him of running an extortion racket.

Singh wrote a letter to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray in March and alleged Deshmukh had asked suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze and other cops to collect Rs100 crore monthly from bars, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses in Mumbai.

Since the Maharashtra government took no action on Singh’s letter, Singh approached the Bombay High Court seeking an investigation against Deshmukh. The division bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta had ordered a preliminary inquiry by the CBI. The High Court orders specified that if there is a cognizable offence, the CBI director can register an FIR.

After the High Court order, Deshmukh had resigned from the post of Maharashtra home minister and challenged the High Court decision before the Supreme Court. However, even the apex court refused to entertain his plea.

After conducting a preliminary inquiry and recording various statements, including that of Deshmukh himself, the CBI registered an FIR in April as it “prima facie” found some evidence against Deshmukh.

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