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Maharashtra Govt Not Cooperating With Probe Against Ex-Home Minister Anil Deshmukh : CBI To Bombay High Court

Sharmeen Hakim
21 Jun 2021 2:50 PM GMT
Maharashtra Govt Not Cooperating With Probe Against Ex-Home Minister Anil Deshmukh : CBI To Bombay High Court
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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has accused the Maharashtra Government of being in contempt of the Bombay High Court's order by refusing to part with the documents sought by the agency related to alleged political influence and corruption in the transfers and posting of police officers in Maharashtra. The agency made the allegation before a bench of Justices SS Shinde and...

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has accused the Maharashtra Government of being in contempt of the Bombay High Court's order by refusing to part with the documents sought by the agency related to alleged political influence and corruption in the transfers and posting of police officers in Maharashtra.

The agency made the allegation before a bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar hearing the state's petition challenging certain portions of the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) FIR against former state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and unknown others.

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. The state completed its arguments during the last hearing.

Senior Advocate Rafique Dada had argued that the paragraphs were an overreach of the Bombay High Court's order from April 5 that directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the corruption allegations against Anil Deshmukh and others.

On Monday, concluding arguments for the CBI, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the state is attempting to "dilute" the Division Bench's order and conceal documents from the CBI in some way or the other.

"We require some documents that they are not giving us. They are not cooperating despite the directions of the Division Bench of this Court, subsequently ratified by the Supreme Court. They are in contempt of court, and this conduct disentitles them from the relief under section 482 of the CrPC or Article 226 of the Constitution of India," he said.

Mehta and Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh argued that it would be incorrect to say that court's order did not mandate investigation into the two paragraphs in the CBI's FIR under challenge. Param Bir Singh's letter to the Chief Minister mentioned several "misdeeds and malpractices," and didn't restrict itself to the Rs 100 crore extortion allegation against Anil Deshmukh, he argued.

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.

Mehta added that Waze's reinstatement in the police force after 15 years, the API being assigned plum postings, and then the access he had to the former State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, was all part of the same transaction.

"Why would a police inspector like Waze have direct access with the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh? It is not a normal phenomenon".

To this, the bench questioned Mehta on the composition of the committee, which reinstated Waze. "Who were the members?"

Param Bir Singh and two others were on that committee, Mehta responded.

Court also asked the Solicitor General if CBI would investigate the 'committee' that reinstated Waze, along with the Home Minister.

Mehta said they could not locate those papers (of the reinstatement committee). However, everyone was under investigation as of now, including Anil Deshmukh and Param Bir Singh. "The agency does not hold the brief for anyone," he said.

The matter was adjourned to Wednesday after Dada submitted that he wanted to respond to the CBI's allegations of contempt. "Serious allegations of contempt have been made. I need to respond because cases have to be decided on law and not on prejudice."

Why is the State Scared?

Earlier during the hearing, ASG Singh submitted that the two unnumbered paragraphs being challenged are statements of fact, and it is "surprising" that the state had filed this petition.

"We are only investigating facts. Why is the state scared of this? It's an enquiry into corruption. In fact, the state should have come forward and given full coorporation."

Any hindrance caused in carrying out a fair and impartial investigation would defect the very purpose, object and intent of the High Court's order, he added.

He urged the court to allow the CBI to investigate its capacity as an independent agency. Reading out relevant portions from the CBI's reply, Singh said the state's allegations are "baseless" and "devoid of any merits."

"The CBI's FIR is based on the Preliminary Enquiry's outcome, in compliance with High Court's order, including Sachin Waze's posting, records/ documents handed over by IPS officer Rashmi Shukla."

He referred to the High Court's observations that officers "appointed for the purpose of conducting a preliminary inquiry shall receive due cooperation from individuals/ agencies who are approached.. .. " to say, "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."

Mayawati's Judgement

During Friday's hearing, Dada had relied heavily on the apex court's judgement in former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's disproportionate assets case. The bench had quashed the FIR against Mayawati, observing that the CBI 'exceeded its jurisdiction' as the court had merely permitted it to investigate the Taj Corridor Case.

However, on Monday, Mehta submitted that if the CBI started investigating Waze's encounters, then the judgement in Mayawati's case would apply. In the present case it is all part of the same transaction, he said.

"It's a chalk and cheese difference."

Jurisdiction of the CBI to investigate in the absence of state's consent:

During Monday's hearing, senior counsel Dada also asserted that the CBI could only proceed with the investigation with the Maharashtra Government's consent regarding portions that went beyond the HC's order. Since the Maharashtra Government had revoked its general consent to the agency, the CBI did not have the authority to proceed with the investigation, he said.

Documents CBI is Seeking from State

1. Letter report of the then Commissioner State Intelligence department Rashmi Shukla dated August 28, 2020, regarding complaints received alleging malpractices in posting of police officers. She recommended a high-level inquiry.

2.Minutes of the meeting of Police Establishment board.

The Challenge

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."

[State of Maharashtra vs CBI]


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