In a big setback to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court has asked the CBI to start a preliminary inquiry in 15 days into corruption allegations by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
The court acknowledged that since the state government has already launched a high-level probe in the case, the CBI should lodge an FIR only after 15 days and decide on future course of action after the preliminary probe. While hearing a plea filed by Dr Jaishri Patil regarding the allegations of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, the Bombay HC said Deshmukh is the state home minister and no impartial probe can be done by the police.
The court last week on March 31 had asked a former Mumbai top cop why he did not lodge a police complaint against Deshmukh if he was aware of alleged wrongdoing being committed by the leader.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni also said that without an FIR the High Court cannot intervene and direct for an independent agency like CBI to carry out an investigation.
The High Court bench had also reserved its order saying it was not appropriate to interfere as the state had launched a probe in the case. The court, however, agreed that it's an unprecedented case before the court. "Deshmukh is Home Minister who leads the police...there has to be an independent enquiry... But CBI need not register FIR immediately or take up Patil's complaint," the court had said.
Param Bir Singh, who was shifted from the post of Mumbai police commissioner on March 17, had initially approached the Supreme Court, alleging that he was transferred after he complained to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other senior leaders about the "corrupt malpractices" of Deshmukh. He also claimed that Deshmukh asked police officer Sachin Waze and others to collect Rs 100 crore per month from bars and restaurants. But the minister denied any wrongdoing. The top court had, however, asked him to approach the high court. Singh later filed a criminal PIL in the high court on March 25.
The SC also asked Singh why he had not reported the matter earlier. "You (Singh) are a senior police officer. You are not a layman. You were duty-bound to register a complaint against any wrongdoing. Despite knowing that an offence is being committed by your boss, you (Singh) remained silent," Chief Justice Datta had said.