Former Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh was given a hero's welcome by key leaders of his party and supporters as he was released from Mumbai's Arthur Road jail today after more than a year's incarceration. The 72-year-old was accused in a corruption case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation or the CBI.
The leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party - who were waiting outside the jail to greet Mr Deshmukh -- accompanied him to the Siddhivinayak Temple, his first stop before he headed for his home in Worli. Visuals from the spot showed Mr Deshmukh riding in an open top jeep, alongside Supriya Sule, party MP and daughter of Sharad Pawar.
"I was kept in jail for more than a year at the behest of Sachin Waze, who himself is in jail in two cases and suspended earlier," Mr Deshmukh told the media after his release. "I was put in jail for no crime. But finally, I got justice from the court. I have faith in the new administration of the country. I trust in the Constitution of India," he added.
Mr Deshmukh was given bail by the Bombay High Court on December 12, but the judge put a freeze on the order for 10 days as the CBI sought time to challenge it in the Supreme Court. The agency has gone to the top court, but its appeal can be heard only after the court reopens in January after the winter vacation.
Earlier, the top court had refused to interfere with the bail granted to him by the Bombay High Court in a money laundering case. The agency in question, the Enforcement Directorate, had arrested him in November 2021.
He got bail in October, but remained behind the bars in connection with the corruption case filed by the CBI. The agency claims Mr Deshmukh had misused his position as state home minister and collected Rs 4.7 crore from various bars in Mumbai through some police officers.
While granting bail, the High Court said apart from the statement of dismissed police officer Sachin Waze, the CBI had no evidence linking Mr Deshmukh with extortion from bar owners or of the money reaching him.
Sachin Waze -- arrested in connection with alleged money laundering by Mr Deshmukh -- is also out on bail since November.
Mr Deshmukh had appealed for bail, citing medical grounds as well as the loopholes in the case against him.