The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the petitions filed by the Maharashtra government and its former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh challenging the Bombay High Court order directing a preliminary inquiry by the CBI into the allegations of corruption and misconduct levelled against him by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
A bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hemant Gupta dismissing the plea and said, “We are not inclined to interfere in this (Bombay High Court) order.” The bench in its order stated, “Nature of allegations and personas involved needs an enquiry by an independent agency. It is a matter of public confidence. We are not inclined to entertain this. dismissed.”
During the hearing, Justice Kaul observed that allegations are very serious as the two persons involved are the Home Minister and the Police Commissioner. “They are closely working together till they fall apart, both holding a particular position. Then should the CBI not investigate?” the bench asked.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Deshmukh, argued that there can be no preliminary inquiry without hearing the former minister. Justice Kaul said, “The facts are very important. It is not about a political rivalry. Here, a very senior officer is making allegations about a very senior minister.” Sibal said, “It is only an inquiry on the basis of something akin to a press conference, it is hearsay. It is not prima facie reliable and is not admissible.” He further contended whether a CBI inquiry could be ordered on the basis of an oral statement that has no personal knowledge. He added that it is not Singh’s case that he has any knowledge.
Justice Gupta said, “Deshmukh did not resign when the commission of enquiry was constituted by the state but he resigned after the high court order and that shows that he was clinging to the office.”
“This is not your enemy who has made these allegations. This is almost your right-hand man. You cannot say that this was an attack on the federal structure. It is not every day that it happens,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, questioned the procedure adopted by the Bombay High Court and said that the state’s advocate-general was heard on the question of maintainability of the pleas seeking CBI investigation against Deshmukh and the order too was reserved on that issue, but the court finally ended up directing the probe.
Singhvi said that the CBI cannot go into one state without their consent and the only exception is when a high court or the Supreme Court orders them to do so.
Singh, after he was removed as the Mumbai Police Commissioner, had accused Deshmukh of running an extortion racket, a charge the latter has denied.Deshmukh had filed the Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the apex court, challenging the 5 April 5 Bombay High Court order.
Deshmukh tendered his resignation to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on April 5 after the Bombay High Court order. The court also directed the agency to register an FIR if any cognisable offence is found.
In his letter to Thackeray, Singh had alleged that Deshmukh had indulged in “malpractices” and asked suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze to collect Rs 100 crores every month. WITH ANI INPUTS