On Tuesday, 18 January, a Mumbai special court will announce its decision on the default bail plea filed by former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, who has been in custody since November 2021.
The special court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) had reserved its verdict on the plea filed earlier this month by Deshmukh, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on allegations of money laundering.
The CBI is investigating him over allegations of corruption and misuse of office made originally by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, while the ED investigation relates to the proceeds of those crimes.
This allegedly includes some Rs 4.7 crore extorted from bars and other establishments in Mumbai through now-dismissed Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze.
The NCP leader has argued that the special court had remanded him on 27 December 2021 to further judicial custody till 9 January, even though no chargesheet had been filed by the ED against him till then and the 60-day time limit for filing the chargesheet was coming up on 1 January.
While a supplementary chargesheet against Deshmukh and his sons was filed by the ED on 29 December, it has not yet been taken cognisance of by the court.
Deshmukh has argued in his bail plea that he became entitled to default bail under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure as cognisance of the chargesheet was not taken within 60 days of his arrest on 2 November 2021.
"As per provisions of law, if on the expiry of the said period of 60 days, investigation is not complete and cognisance of the charge sheet is not taken, an indefeasible right of statutory bail accrues to the accused,” his bail application in the special court said.
The ED has argued that even though cognisance was not taken of the charge sheet before 1 January, the chargesheet was filed within 60 days of Deshmukh's arrest, and so the requirement to complete its investigation has been met. Therefore, they argue, Deshmukh is not entitled to default bail.
Arguments were completed on Friday, 14 January, and the special court reserved its verdict.
Lawyer and activist Sudha Bhardwaj, one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, was recently held to be entitled to default bail as the chargesheet against her was filed after an invalid extension of time was granted to the police in her case.
However, even as the Bombay High Court accepted her arguments, it had rejected similar pleas for statutory bail by eight of the other accused in the case, as they had not filed their applications for default bail till after the police had filed the chargesheets against them.
According to a Supreme Court decision from 2020, if an accused fails to file their default bail application before the police file a chargesheet, even if this is after the deadline, they lose their right to default bail.