HE Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a ‘preliminary inquiry’ against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh who quit his post on Monday after the Bombay High Court ordered a 15-day initial investigation into corruption allegations levelled against him by ex-Mumbai top cop Param Bir Singh.
This came hours after Deshmukh and Maharashtra Government filed appeals in the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court’s order directing a preliminary inquiry.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter tomorrow.
Deshmukh, in his plea, contended that the high court did not give him an opportunity to explain his version and yet passed the order against him.
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Deshmukh added in his plea that never in the “annals of judicial history” have allegations against a sitting minister been “taken on face value” and an “outside agency” been directed to conduct an inquiry without calling for a response from the minister to conduct a preliminary enquiry.
It was also pointed out that the CBI itself was being headed by an interim director about which a matter was being heard in the Supreme Court.
The Bombay High Court on April 5 directed the CBI to hold a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) into the allegations of corrupt practices against Deshmukh levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
A division bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta said the PE was to be completed within 15 days in accordance with the law and thereafter the CBI Director could use his discretion to decide a further course of action.
The PE would be conducted in the complaint filed by one Dr. Jayshri Patil who had lodged a complaint with the Malabar Hill Police station but they had not acted on it.
The bench added it was an unprecedented situation where the allegations were against the state’s home minister.
“The police department is under his control and direction. There can be no fair, impartial, unbiased and untainted probe, if the same were entrusted to the State Police Force. As of necessity, the probe has to be entrusted to an independent agency like the CBI”, the bench said.
It, prima facie, found the issues are such that the very faith of citizens in the functioning of the police department is at stake. If there is any amount of truth in such allegations, certainly it has a direct effect on the citizens’ confidence in the police machinery in the State. Such allegations, the Court said, cannot remain unattended and are required to be looked into in the manner known to law when, prima facie, they indicate commission of a cognizable offence.
It also took note of the press release of Deshmukh suggesting that he is not averse to facing any inquiry.
Days after Singh was shunted out of his position as police commissioner, he addressed a letter to the Chief Minister, alleging that Deshmukh would direct police officers to collect money on his behalf from various establishments and other sources.
Singh’s transfer came as a fallout of the arrest of crime branch officer Sachin Waze in connection with the parking of an explosives-laden vehicle outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani on February 25 and in the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, who purportedly owned that vehicle.
Singh also alleged that Deshmukh had been interfering in various investigations and instructing police officers on how to conduct them.
The Maharashtra Government also issued a notification on April 4 constituting a one-member high-level enquiry committee headed by a former judge of the Bombay High Court Justice KU Chandiwal, to probe the allegations made by Singh against Deshmukh.
The government notification said the committee would be submitting its report within six months.