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Bombay High Court Reserves Judgment On Maharashtra Govt Plea Challenging Portions Of CBI FIR Against Anil Deshmukh

Sharmeen Hakim
23 Jun 2021 2:16 PM GMT
Bombay High Court Reserves Judgment On Maharashtra Govt Plea Challenging Portions Of CBI FIR Against Anil Deshmukh
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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday reserved for orders the Maharashtra Government's petition seeking to delete two paragraphs from CBI's corruption FIR against former State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, alleging that the portions attempt to "destabilise the present government in Maharashtra." The first of those paragraphs pertain to Deshmukh's knowledge of now dismissed Assistant...

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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday reserved for orders the Maharashtra Government's petition seeking to delete two paragraphs from CBI's corruption FIR against former State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, alleging that the portions attempt to "destabilise the present government in Maharashtra."

The first of those paragraphs pertain to Deshmukh's knowledge of now dismissed Assistant Police Inspector - Sachin Waze's reinstatement, and the second is regarding corruption and political influence in police transfers.

"Both paras are tendentious, go beyond the High Court's order and the court alone can control this. We are not just fighting for the morale of the policemen who will be totally demoralised (if the CBI is allowed to investigate all police transfers); but also for the sanctity of our investigations," Senior Advocate Rafique Dada said, concluding his rejoinder arguments.

He went ahead to indicatively say that the CBI was, in fact, attempting to protect Singh. The state was examining Singh's conduct for heading the committee that reinstated Waze after the latter was arrested in the Ambani Terror Scare Case.

"I will show who is being protected," Dada submitted, adding that the CBI registered the FIR on April 21, 2021, less than a month (March 31) after the Joint Commissioner submitted a report to the State that Waze- was acting on Singh's instructions.

He argued that it's incredible that the CBI FIR did not mention the ex-CP Param Bir Singh or Sachin Waze, but only Anil Deshmukh and two unknown persons. And then the only thing they found against the Home Minister is that he had "knowledge."

"They dug a mountain and found only a rat, khoda pahad nikla chuha" Dada said.

Dada vehemently argued that the CBI was mixing up Param Bir Singh's letter to the Chief Minister, other petitions heard by the Chief Justice's bench, and Param Bir Singh's own plea.

"Every matter has a short point, and here, it is the interpretation of the mandate given by the High Court. The High Court did not order the Preliminary Enquiry on the petition of Dr Patil but on the complaint of Dr Patil, which had Param Bir Singh's letter attached. That was the mandate of the court."

"We are not asking your lordships to go beyond the mandate of the court or dilute the mandate. We are saying, follow the mandate of the court."

The division bench of justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar sought to know when was Singh appointed as the CP of Mumbai and when did he make the allegations against the HM.

Dada informed the court that Singh made the allegations on March 20, 2021, a year after he was appointed as Mumbai CP on February 29, 2020.

Dada pointed out that Singh had first approached the Supreme Court, on March 24, against his transfer from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner and when it did not work, he window-dressed prayers in the form of a PIL before the HC.

"He didn't do anything till the time he was transferred," Dada submitted.

Dada asked if Waze's reinstatement, Rashmi Shukla's letter, transfers and postings issue, allegations of Rs 100 crore extortion from bars – all be part of the same transaction.

Dada then cited Narmada Bai vs State Of Gujarat & Ors on April 8, 2011, and submitted that the High Court's powers under Article 226 of the Constitution were wider than that of the Supreme Court under Article 32. "Every injustice can be righted," he said.

CBI's ARGUMENTS

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the CBI argued that the state relied heavily on Mayawati's judgement, but it was not applicable in the present circumstances.

He submitted that the CBI was asked to investigate the Taj Corridor Scam in 2002, however, they registered a separate FIR and began investigating the disproportionate assets case from the 90s.

"The judgement was case-specific and did not lay down a proposition of general application," Mehta said.

Mehta said there are specific allegation in Singh's letter regarding large scale malpractices in the Home Minister's office related to transfers. Mehta says that Waze is also mentioned in Param Bir's letter.

Mehta said the CBI would be failing in its duty if it did not investigate into the two paragraphs. "This is not only within our domain but it is the mandate."

On Monday, the Solicitor General submitted that the two paragraphs under challenge are "intrinsically linked" to the corruption allegations against Deshmukh and the State was in "contempt" of the Bombay High Court's April 5 order by not providing documents related to police transfers sought by the agency.

CBI's FIR was registered pursuant to a PE directed by the Chief Justice's bench of the Bombay High Court.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for CBI asked the state why was it "scared" of the agency's investigation into the corruption allegations, adding that the state should have come forward and extended full coorporation.

"The petitioners failed to provide the required documents to CBI and their reservations in providing the said documents/ records to CBI for investigation, on the pretext of something or other gives an impression that the petitioner intends to conceal something incriminating against the then Home Minister Sh. Anil Deshmukh and others."

The Case

The state The approached the court after the CBI sought the letter report of the then Commissioner State Intelligence department - Rashmi Shukla - dated August 28, 2020, regarding alleged malpractices in posting of police officers. She had recommended a high-level inquiry. The CBI also minutes of the meeting of Police Establishment board.

In the petition filed through the Additional Chief Secretary of the Home Department, the state claimed that the two paragraphs are inserted in CBI's FIR "to carry out [a] fishing and roving inquiry into the administration of the State Government in order to try and find out some material enabling political groups that are presently not in power in the petitioner state, to try and destabilise the present government in the petitioner State."

BACKGROUND

In an eight-page letter to CM Uddhav Thackeray on March 20, Param Bir Singh accused Deshmukh of holding meetings with subordinate police officers, including suspended API Sachin Waze, and seeking a collection of Rs 100 crore from the 1750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai. The CBI said he also accused him of other misdeeds.

On April 5, 2021 the Bombay High Court disposed of a clutch of petitions including a writ petition filed by Advocate Jaishri Patil and a PIL filed by Param Bir Singh in a single order and directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into corruption allegations against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.


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