CBI records statement of Dr Jaishri Patil in preliminary probe ordered by Bombay HC
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recorded the statement of complainant Dr Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) guest house in Santacruz (East) in connection with the corruption allegations made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh against former home minister Anil Deshmukh. Dr Patil’s statement was recorded after the Bombay high court (HC) directed CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry and submit a report in 15 days based on her petition.
Patil reached DRDO guest house around 3pm on Wednesday where the CBI team is stationed. CBI questioned Patil for almost five hours and called her again on Thursday to record further statement. Patil said, “I have submitted the evidence that I have and will visit CBI office again to give further statement.”
“I have received several threats on phone as well as on social media from many organisations pressuring me not to speak and give statement to CBI officials against politician” said Patil.
On Tuesday evening, CBI registered a preliminary inquiry based on the HC order, and a team comprising six officers reached Mumbai from Delhi the same evening to investigate the matter.
A CBI officer said a second CBI team from Delhi comprising around six more officers, including a superintendent of police, also reached Mumbai in the afternoon. Before registering the preliminary enquiry, CBI had consulted their legal team.
CBI officers also approached the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Wednesday seeking permission to record the statement of former police officer Sachin Vaze who is in NIA custody for allegedly planting a explosives-laden vehicle near the industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house on February 25. Vaze had also been named by Singh in his eight-page letter to Maharashtra chief minister wherein he alleged that Deshmukh has asked Vaze and two other officers to collect ₹100 crore from bar and restaurants in the city.
The NIA court granted permission to CBI to record Vaze’s statement in connection with the corruption allegations. CBI will also record statements of Singh and the other officers mentioned by Singh during the preliminary enquiry.
While directing CBI to conduct a preliminary probe on April 5 in a 52-page judgement, the HC had observed that Malabar Hill police had failed to take action on Patil’s complaint which had pointed to a cognisable offence being committed by Deshmukh.
HC noted that it could not remain a “mute spectator” to the complaints received against high-level officers and ruled, “It is, hence, certainly an issue of credibility of state machinery, which would stare at face when confronted with the expectations of law and when such complaints are received against high-ranking public officials. This court cannot be a mute spectator in these circumstances.”
It further observed that as the state police force was under Deshmukh [he resigned after HC’s directions for probe], it would serve the ends of justice if a preliminary probe was conducted by an independent agency such as CBI.
“Deshmukh is home minister. The police department is under his control and direction. There can be no fair, impartial, unbiased and untainted probe if the same were entrusted to the state police force. As of necessity, probe has to be entrusted to an independent agency like CBI,” the bench noted in its judgment.
“The allegations made by Shri Param Bir Singh are serious in nature and against the highest functionary of the government of Maharashtra when it comes to the functioning of the police department. Prima facie, the issues are such that the very faith of citizens in the functioning of the police department is at stake. If there is any amount of truth in such allegations, certainly it has a direct effect on the citizens’ confidence in the police machinery in the state. Such allegations, therefore, cannot remain unattended and are required to be looked into in the manner known to law when prima facie they indicate commission of a cognisable offence,” the court observed.