CBI case against Anil Deshmukh: HC reserves order on state’s petition for SIT probe

HC was informed by the state that the claims made by CBI that its director Subodh Jaiswal wouldn’t influence the probe into allegations of corruption in transfers, postings of cops, couldn’t be accepted
The state submitted that CBI director Subodh Jaiswal was the decision maker in the police establishment board (PEB) meetings wherein the transfers and postings of over 92% names of officers were finalised. Hence, it was Jaiswal who played a vital role in transfers and so the agency headed by him [CBI] could not conduct an unbiased probe into the corruption allegations made against Anil Deshmukh. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The state submitted that CBI director Subodh Jaiswal was the decision maker in the police establishment board (PEB) meetings wherein the transfers and postings of over 92% names of officers were finalised. Hence, it was Jaiswal who played a vital role in transfers and so the agency headed by him [CBI] could not conduct an unbiased probe into the corruption allegations made against Anil Deshmukh. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Nov 26, 2021 09:06 PM IST
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ByKAY Dodhiya, Mumbai

The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday concluded the hearing on the petition filed by the government, seeking transfer of the investigation in the April 21 first information report (FIR) against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to the special investigation team (SIT). The hearing was concluded after the state, chief secretary Sitaram Kunte and director general of police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey responded to the arguments of CBI, which had opposed the transfer of the probe to SIT.

Pandey has denied the allegations made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh in his April 19 letter to CBI and also challenged the veracity of the transcripts mentioned in the letter.

The state submitted that CBI director Subodh Jaiswal was the decision maker in the police establishment board (PEB) meetings wherein the transfer and posting of over 92% names of officers were finalised and forwarded to the home ministry. Hence, it was Jaiswal who played a vital role in transfers and postings and so the agency headed by him [CBI] could not conduct an unbiased probe into the corruption allegations made against Deshmukh.

CBI responded by saying that its willingness to submit a progress report to HC in a sealed envelope proved that there was no need for a court-monitored SIT headed by a retired judge.

The division bench of justice Nitin Jamdar and justice Sarang Kotwal, which is hearing the petition filed by the Maharashtra government, was informed by special counsel Darius Khambatta for the state that the claims made by CBI that Jaiswal, despite being the director of the agency would not influence the investigation in the allegations of corruption in transfer and postings of police officers, could not be accepted.

Khambatta said that HC’s April 5 order had handed over probe to CBI as it felt Mumbai Police could not do an impartial investigation as Deshmukh then headed the home ministry. A similar parallel could be drawn in the case of Jaiswal, he said, adding that the fact that CBI did not disclose to HC that they had recorded the agency director’s statement with regards to the case in May indicated that there was bias.

The court was further informed that the refusal of the Centre to part with the third pen drive – which was part of its investigation in the data leak case against unknown persons – was also indicative of an attempt to put the blame of corruption only on Deshmukh, while others were involved as well.

Khambatta lastly submitted that CBI’s objection that the state could not file the petition under the parens patriae (parent of the nation) jurisdiction was also not valid as the agency summoned Pandey who was not even part of PEB when the alleged acts of corruption took place. He said that as the summons would affect the morale of the entire police force in the state, it had filed the petition under parens patriae jurisdiction on behalf of the force.

Responding to the rejoinder by the state and the two officers, additional solicitor general Aman Lekhi for CBI submitted that there was no mala fides on the agency’s part in summoning the two top officers or by having Jaiswal at the helm of the agency. He concluded that HC could monitor the investigations by itself rather than transferring it to an SIT headed by a retired judge as CBI was willing to submit progress reports in a sealed covers for perusal of the bench.

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