The court further said there is no other material of "sterling quality" to connect accused Shinde with the allegation made by the Enforcement Directorate probing the case
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"Implicit reliance" cannot be placed on the "inconsistent statements" of former policeman Sachin Waze, observed a special court here while granting bail in a money laundering case to Kundan Shinde, an aide of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh.
The court further said there is no other material of "sterling quality" to connect accused Shinde with the allegation made by the Enforcement Directorate probing the case.
The special judge for cases under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), R N Rokade, had granted bail to Shinde on February 1. The detailed order was available on Thursday.
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Shinde, however, is still in jail as he is also an accused in a corruption case being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The court is likely to pass its order on his bail plea in the CBI case on Friday.
As per the ED, Shinde was instrumental in collecting Rs 4.70 crore from Sachin Waze, also an accused in the case, on behalf of then state home minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Anil Deshmukh. The entire case is based on the statement given by Waze to the ED.
However, Shinde, in his bail application filed through advocates Vikram Chaudhry, Aniket Nikam and Inderpal Singh, raised doubts on the credibility of Waze's statements.
As per Shinde's plea, the credibility of accused Waze was a matter of serious concern, and his statements made before the ED were wholly unreliable and had no creditworthiness.
Further, Waze has made several statements before the Commission of Enquiry (set up by the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government to probe the allegations against Deshmukh) in which he has claimed he never met Deshmukh or the applicant (Shinde) and had not passed on any illegally collected money, the plea further said.
Therefore, the ambit and scope of statements purportedly made by accused Sachin Waze before the Enforcement Directorate "is a matter of grave concern", Shinde's plea said.
After hearing both sides, the court said, "The challenge to credibility and reliability of the statements of accused Waze in the light of inconsistent statements made by him cannot be said to be unfounded."
"Therefore, I am inclined to hold that implicit reliance cannot be placed upon the statements of Waze. There is no other material of sterling quality except statements of accused Waze to connect the applicant with the allegations made in the complaint," the judge further said.
Additionally, the court also noted there are bleak chances of Shinde's conviction on the basis of "inconsistent statements" of Waze.
Having regard to the entire gamut of the circumstances, including bleak chances of conviction, suppression of material statements by ED and enlargement of co-accused Anil Deshmukh and Sanjeev Palande, it was fit case to grant bail to Shinde, the court observed.
Shinde, who worked as the personal assistant of Deshmukh when the latter was the state home minister, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in June 2021 for his alleged role in the money laundering case.
As per the ED, prime accused Deshmukh allegedly misused his official position as state home minister and collected Rs 4.70 crore from various bars and restaurants in Mumbai through Waze.
This money was then laundered through the Nagpur-based Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha, an education trust controlled by Deshmukh's family, the ED has further alleged.
Deshmukh has claimed the ED's case was based on malicious statements made by Waze.
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