By PTI

MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh has again skipped appearing before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case stating that he was taking recourse to “lawful remedies” for the protection of his liberty.

This was the fifth time that the 71-year-old NCP minister refused to appear before the ED.

Deshmukh sent a three-page reply to the investigating officer of the case through his lawyer saying that the Supreme Court has “made it open for me to take recourse to all appropriate remedies available under CrPC (criminal procedure code) including filing of a quashing petition”.

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He added that he was taking recourse to legal remedies for the protection of his liberty “within a day or two”. Deshmukh added he was a “law abiding citizen” as he requested the agency to record his statement through an electronic medium, till the time “appropriate orders are passed by court(s)”.

The next step being mulled by the agency was not informed. The ED had issued the fifth summons to Deshmukh and his son Hrishikesh after the Supreme Court on August 16 refused interim protection to the politician from any coercive action by the federal agency.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar, however, had said that Deshmukh was at liberty to access remedies. Deshmukh has last month issued a video statement stating that he would appear before the ED “after” the apex court’s decision on his petition.

“I had received ED’s summons after which I filed a petition in the Supreme Court. I will go to the ED to record my statement after the SC’s decision on my petition,” Deshmukh had said.

The summonses were issued to the former home minister in connection with the criminal case registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) related to an alleged Rs 100 crore bribery-cum-extortion racket in the Maharashtra Police establishment that led to Deshmukh’s resignation in April.

The agency had raided Deshmukh’s premises in Mumbai and Nagpur in June apart from that of his aides and some others. It subsequently arrested two of his aides, personal secretary Sanjeev Palande (51) and personal assistant Kundan Shinde (45).

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.

The ED recently also attached assets worth Rs 4.20 crore of Deshmukh and his family. The ED had claimed its probe found that “Deshmukh, while acting as home minister of Maharashtra, with dishonest intention has received illegal gratification of approximately Rs 4.70 crore in cash from various orchestra bar owners, through Sachin Waze, then the assistant police inspector of Mumbai Police”.

The NCP leader has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in these instances and his lawyers have called the ED action against him unjustified. Deshmukh had said Singh made the allegations against him after he was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner.