The Supreme Court has dismissed the pleas filed by Maharashtra government and former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh challenging the Bombay High Court order directing a probe by an independent agency into corruption allegations made by Ex- Commissioner of Police, Parambir Singh.
The bench of Justices SK Kaul and Hemant Gupta held that the nature of allegations, the persons involved and the seriousness of the allegations do require an independent agency to enquire into the matter.
The court stated that it is a matter of public confidence and it is only a preliminary enquiry. The court refused to take into consideration that since Deshmukh had resigned as Home Minister, the enquiry should not be instituted. “The two personas involved in the case were working together till they fell apart. Both of them were holding high positions. Certainly an independent investigation is needed,” said Justice Kaul.
Further, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended that Deshmukh is mandatorily entitled to be heard in his individual capacity even though the State Government was represented and he was a Minister at that time. Sibal further argued that Parambir Singh’s letter is based on hearsay evidence, and he claims no direct knowledge of the allegations, thus, it was important to give Deshmukh an opportunity to be heard. Sibal also proposed that investigation under the monitoring of the High Court or the Supreme Court, instead of the CBI. The court refused to accept this contention and said that the petitioner cannot pick and choose the agency.
“I am vilified unheard. I had to resign. If I was given an opportunity to bring my version on record, this would not have happened”, Sibal said.
The bench, however, was not inclined to interfere with the High Court’s order.
On April 5, the high court directed CBI to probe into the ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’ case within 15 days. The case stems from allegations made by ex-Police Commissioner, Parambir Singh, in an eight-page letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. In the letter written three days after Singh’s posting to the Home Guards, he alleged that Deshmukh asked the now suspended and arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze to collect Rs. 100 crore, by tapping the 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai for Rs 40-50 crore every month.
Soon after the Bombay High Court order, Deshmukh had resigned as the state’s Home Minister. “Following the court’s order, it does not seem appropriate that I maintain my post as Home Minister. For this reason, I have decided to distance myself from this designation,” Deshmukh wrote in his letter.
The grounds on which Deshmukh had challenged the order before the apex court are that the order was passed without giving Deshmukh or state police machinery an opportunity to be heard; it did not take into account the revocation by the government of the general consent for CBI probes; no opportunity was given to the police to investigate into the matter; alternate remedy of approaching Magistrate under section 156(3) of CrPC was not considered.
The plea states that the allegations were made after the ex-commissioner of police was transferred, and the evidence sought to be created with intent and that these aspects need to be looked into before instituting an inquiry by the CBI. He further argues in his petition that the allegations made by Singh are not substantiated and are motivated.
“The erstwhile Commissioner of police has referred to alleged conversations by others, which is pure hearsay, not produced any substantive evidence before Court, that can, in law, be relied upon, and without giving notice to the Petitioner, has handed over investigation to an agency which the State Government has least confidence in. If this principle were to be followed, and courts under Article 226 of the Constitution were to accept bald and motivated statements of this nature, made much after the alleged incidents, without any actionable evidence before Court, then the Petitioner believes that such processes may well be followed to destabilize governments”, the plea states, as reported by LiveLaw.
Deshmukh has also separately filed a Special Leave Petition over the legality of appointment of interim Director of CBI, which has been questioned before the apex court, in a plea filed by NGO Common Cause.
The order may be read here: