The Bombay High Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 5, 2021 to carry out ‘preliminary inquiry’ into corruption allegations against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. Deshmukh has since resigned and Bar and Bench reports, could be considering challenging the Bombay HC order in the Supreme Court.
According to the Indian Express, Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G. S. Kulkarni directed the CBI to complete the probe regarding the ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’ case within 15 days, following which the Bureau is free to take further action.
The decision also considered a criminal writ plea by city-based lawyer Jaishri Patil, who sought an independent probe for the corruption allegations filed by her at Malabar Hill Police station against Deshmukh and others. Although Patil had approached authorities, the court found her complaint was not filed in the station diary.
“We agree with Jaishri Patil that directions are required to order an unbiased probe to unearth the truth. There can be no independent probe if it is given to police as Deshmukh is the Home Minister. The interest of justice will be done if the Director of CBI is allowed to conduct a preliminary inquiry,” said the bench.
Patil’s plea also sought directions to secure CCTV footage of areas where alleged criminal conspiracy took place in the Ambani house bomb scare case as per Singh’s letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. The court said that the CBI need not register an FIR immediately or take up Patil’s complaint. Further, it also granted “liberty to Singh to make a grievance, if any, before an appropriate forum.”
The ex-Police Commissioner had written the eight-page letter to Thackeray, three days after his posting to the Home Guards. In it, he alleged that Deshmukh asked the now suspended and arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze to collect Rs. 100 crore, including Rs 40-50 crore from 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai, every month.
Previously, the bench repeatedly asked Singh about the absence of an FIR for his allegations against Deshmukh. It questioned whether Singh had faith in his own police force.
“Where is FIR? You have to approach the police/agency with an FIR. Our prima facie observation [with respect to prayer seeking CBI probe] is that there cannot be investigation without FIR,” the bench said, questioning the maintainability of Singh’s PIL.
Singh’s plea also mentioned a report by State Intelligence Department’s 2020- Commissioner Intelligence Rashmi Shukla, who pointed out to the Director-General of Police (DGP) about corruption in postings and transfers in Maharashtra. The DGP later brought this knowledge to the attention of the Additional Chief Secretary (Home).
The entire order may be read here: