SC dismisses pleas of Maharashtra govt, Deshmukh against HC order for CBI probe into allegations by Mumbai ex-CP

Nature of allegations, persons involved require independent probe, says top court

SC dismisses pleas of Maharashtra govt, Deshmukh against HC order for CBI probe into allegations by Mumbai ex-CP

Photo for representation. — iStock

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 8

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with the Bombay High Court order for a CBI probe into former Bombay Police chief Param Bir Singh's allegations of corruption against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh.

"Taking into consideration the nature of allegations and persons involved, an investigation by an independent agency is required. We are not inclined to interfere," a Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said for dismissing the petitions filed by Deshmukh and the Maharashtra government.

On behalf of Deshmukh and Maharashtra government, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi contended that a CBI probe can't be ordered on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations.

"There has to be some element of truth. There has been no case where a CBI inquiry has been ordered based on the basis of an unsubstantiated allegation. Jaishree Patil (petitioner before HC) copied the entire statement of Param Bir Singh and filed a petition. She has cut copy-pasted his letter and on the basis of this, CBI preliminary enquiry were ordered," Sibal submitted.

Singhvi argued that the state government wasn't heard before the high court ordered the CBI probe.

The Bench noted that the then Home Minister Deshmukh and the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh were working together closely till they fell apart. "The parties were hunky dory... Let the CBI do its job," it said. 

A day after the Bombay High Court ordered a CBI probe into former Bombay Police chief Param Bir Singh's allegations of corruption against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, the state government and the NCP leader had on Tuesday filed separate petitions in the Supreme Court against the high court order.

In its order, the Bombay High Court had said even though the state government ordered a high-level committee to probe into the allegations, an inquiry based on Patil's complaint was necessary as per the law.

Since the police investigating complaints against the home minister and a serving police officer would not be most appropriate, it is a fit case for ordering a CBI probe, it had noted. 

The high court had asked the CBI director to conduct a preliminary enquiry (PE) based on Patil's complaint and a letter written by Param Bir Singh to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that Patil had attached to her complaint.

 The high court said the CBI need not immediately register an FIR, but it must complete its PE within 15 days and then decide on further course of action.

Such allegations, made by a serving police officer, against the state home minister could not be left unattended, and were required to be probed into, if prima facie, they made a case of a cognisable offence, the high court said.

A probe by an independent agency was necessary in the case, to "instil public confidence and safeguard the Fundamental Rights of the citizens," it had said.

Courts were committed to ensuring the rule of law and preventing any breach of constitutional principles, irrespective of the high office an accused occupied, the HC had noted.

There were three PILs in the HC seeking a CBI probe against Deshmukh who allegedly asked police officers, including suspended cop Sachin Vaze, to extort Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants. Deshmukh denied the allegations. 

In his petition before the SC, Deshmukh sought to assail the high court’s order, contending it was passed without hearing him and ignoring the fact that Maharashtra government has revoked the general consent given to CBI.

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