More than one year after he was arrested in an alleged corruption case, former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh was released on bail on Wednesday.
The 73-year-old Nationalist Congress Party leader was greeted by senior leaders of his party as he walked out of Mumbai's Arthur Road prison around 4.45 pm.
On Tuesday, the Bombay high court had refused to further stay its order granting him bail in a corruption case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"I have full faith in the judiciary....the high court has observed that I was implicated in a false case," Deshmukh said, as NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Supriya Sule, Dilip Walse-Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal besides hordes of party workers welcomed him.
Referring to dismissed police officer Sachin Waze, Deshmukh said the ED and CBI based their cases against him on the allegations made by an officer who had been suspended after his name cropped up in the case related to the explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's south Mumbai residence.
"It is very sad that just because of Waze's allegations, I had to spend time in jail. He is now arrested in two murder cases, the NIA also booked him. (Retired IPS officer) Param Bir Singh's allegations also turned out to be false," Deshmukh further said.
Deshmukh was first arrested by the ED on November 2, 2021 in an alleged money-laundering case. It was based on a First Information Report registered by the CBI in an alleged corruption case on April 21, 2021.
In a letter to then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on March 20, 2021, former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh alleged that Deshmukh had instructed certain police officers including dismissed assistant inspector Waze to collect Rs 100 crore every month from the owners of bars and restaurants in the city.
Deshmukh denied the allegations but stepped down as home minister as the Bombay high court directed the CBI to start a preliminary inquiry against him.
The CBI formally arrested Deshmukh on April 6, 2022 and filed a charge sheet against him on July 12.
The HC on October 4 granted the NCP leader bail in the money-laundering case.
Justice M S Karnik of the HC granted him bail in the CBI case on December 12, but stayed the order for ten days as the central agency sought time to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
Last week, the high court extended the stay till December 27 on the CBI's request. But a vacation bench of the HC on Tuesday rejected the CBI's plea seeking another extension.
The probe agency has moved the apex court but the appeal would be heard only in January 2023 as the Supreme Court is closed for vacation.
Deshmukh's lawyers Aniket Nikam and Inderpal Singh had opposed the CBI plea for extension to the stay.
The high court, while granting bail to Deshmukh, had noted that except for Sachin Waze's statement, no statement recorded by the CBI indicated that money was being extorted from bar owners at the behest of the NCP leader.