The Supreme Court today directed the Bombay High Court to hear and decide expeditiously the bail plea of Maharashtra's former home minister Anil Deshmukh, arrested in connection with a money laundering case.

A Bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli noted that the bail plea of Deshmukh is pending in the High Court since March 21.

Any person who has filed a bail application has a legitimate expectation that his plea will be disposed of at an early date. Keeping an application for bail pending is not consistent with the Right to Life under Article 21.

We issue a direction and permit the petitioner to apply before the learned judge to whom the case has been assigned tomorrow. The application shall be taken for hearing during the course of this week and decided expeditiously, the Bench said.

The Court clarified that it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case. Justice N J Jamadar of the High Court is hearing the bail plea of Deshmukh.

Deshmukh was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in November 2021 and is currently in judicial custody.

In July, a special CBI court in Mumbai had rejected Deshmukh's plea seeking default bail in a corruption case registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Before that, the Supreme Court refused to release Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh from prison to vote in the Municipal Legislative Council elections. The Court had said that it is willing to hear the questions of law involved in the interpretation of Section 62(5) of the Representative of People Act, while declining interim relief.

With PTI inputs