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Anil Deshmukh case: Widen probe, says Bombay HC to CBI

Referring to the observation of the Supreme Court that former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh and former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh were working in close confidence, the Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to inquire in it
By KAY Dodhiya, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 08, 2021 01:16 AM IST

Referring to the observation of the Supreme Court that former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh and former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh were working in close confidence, the Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to inquire in it. The court noted that as per the April 5 order of the HC which directed CBI to conduct a preliminary probe into the allegations of corruption, bribery and criminal conspiracy against Deshmukh and others, the inquiry would not be complete unless the role of everyone including the unknown persons was considered in the April 21 first information report (FIR).

On its part, CBI assured the court that it was carrying out a comprehensive probe and all those involved in the case had been identified and their roles had been ascertained, hence Deshmukh’s petition was misconceived and deserved to be dismissed.

The division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice NJ Jamadar, while hearing the petition filed by Deshmukh challenging the FIR filed by CBI based on the HC order, was informed by senior advocate Amit Desai along with advocate Kamlesh Ghumre that the FIR was vague and inconsistent as it had not disclosed the names of persons between whom the alleged cognisable offences had occurred and also did it mention the place where it took place or the amount involved.

Desai reiterated that the CBI’s FIR was filed with mala fide intent and vested interests as it named only Deshmukh and did not disclose names of other accused. In light of these submissions, Desai sought setting aside of the FIR.

The HC had, on July 5, sought to know from CBI the names of the “unknown persons” mentioned in its FIR against Deshmukh and had observed that since it was over two months since the FIR was lodged, it expected the CBI to disclose the names as well as give a report on the progress of the investigation in a sealed cover.

The bench then observed, “The highest functionaries cannot be let off. The minister might have been told to reinstate (suspended police officer Sachin Vaze), but can the person holding the main post say I will obey them and not perform my duties? The committee which reinstated Vaze can be probed.” The court then said that whoever held the top post could not plead innocence saying that he was helpless in the face of orders by someone superior. It was equally the duty of that officer, who was holding the main post to prevent the wrong.

While expressing hope that CBI would conduct a broad base investigation, the bench said, “At this stage, hopefully the probe agency has found conspirators...If Sachin Vaze was such a dangerous man, then subject to what CBI counsel has to say, the committee that reinstated him can also be added as an accused in the case. We are not naming any individuals now. Who has inducted this inspector after 15 years?”

Additional solicitor general Aman Lekhi for CBI informed the bench that as per the investigating officer, persons involved in the case were identified and the amount of money involved was determined as well. Lekhi assured the bench the probe was comprehensive and no person covered in the complaint was excluded.

He further said the grounds to challenge the FIR taken in the petition were misconceived. Justifying the CBI probe, Lekhi submitted it was necessitated as the state had failed to take adequate action on the March 20 letter written by Param Bir Singh.

CBI will continue its arguments on July 12.

Will not arrest Param Bir Singh, Rashmi Shukla till July 29: State to HC

Due to paucity of time and other scheduled matter the Bombay HC adjourned hearing of the petitions filed by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh, seeking quashing of an FIR lodged against him by the Thane Police under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act till July 28.

Similarly, the petition filed by senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla in the illegal phone tapping case registered by Mumbai Police was also adjourned to July 28. In light of the adjournments, the state assured the HC that no coercive steps, including arrest would be taken against Singh or Shukla till July 29 which was accepted by the bench.

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