Appoint SIT to probe allegations against Anil Deshmukh, monitor probe, state tells HC
The state government on Thursday urged the Bombay high court (HC) to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) headed by a former judge to probe the allegations of corruption levelled by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh against former home minister Anil Deshmukh and into the report of IPS officer Rashmi Shukla on political interference in transfer and posting of police personnel and monitor the probe.
The state government argued that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Subodh Jaiswal was part of the Maharashtra Police force till last year and therefore an impartial and unbiased probe could not be expected, hence, an SIT should be constituted for an independent probe.
The state government has filed a petition after CBI started issuing summons to chief secretary Sitaram Kunte and director general of police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey for inquiry in connection with the case. The state submitted that both Kunte and Pandey were top officers and could not be expected to depose against themselves.
The division bench of justice Nitin Jamdar and justice Sarang Kotwal was also informed by senior counsel Darius Khambata, who represented the state government, that the investigation by the CBI in the April 21 first information report (FIR) could not be impartial due to various reasons.
Referring to the summons being issued by CBI to Kunte and Pandey, Khambata said that it was surprising that the two were being called for questioning when they were not even part of the Police Establishment Board (PEB) while Singh and Jaiswal who was part of the PEB at the relevant time was not issued any summons.
Khambata then referred to the scope and intent of the preliminary probe ordered by the HC on April 5 and submitted that the HC had clearly stated that for the probe to be impartial it should be done by a third party and hence directed the CBI to do so. Khambata then added that the CBI could not have done an impartial probe as the director was part of the Maharashtra police force and as he could also become part of the probe, there was no chance of him being questioned by his juniors. “Inherently and functionally there will be a bias if the head of an organisation is investigating a subject matter of probe,” said Khambata.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta opposed the petition and accused the state of trying to scuttle and delay the investigation though three previous attempts failed. “The state government has no role to play in the investigations but it is only trying to help the accused,” said Mehta, seeking a week to file a reply to the petition.
Mehta added that if Pandey felt that he was a potential accused and could be affected by the probe he should file a separate petition rather than tagging himself with the petition filed by the state.
However, senior advocate Navroz Seerwai for Pandey objected to the suggestion and said that Pandey and Jaiswal had a history of falling out, hence wanted to have a say in the petition filed by the state, against the CBI.
The bench then permitted the CBI to file a reply within a week and posted the petition for hearing of the petition to Thursday, October 28.