Maharashtra Filing Cases That Overlap Probe Against Ex-Home Minister: CBI

CBI said there is an attempt to meddle in the investigation into cases against Anil Deshmukh. (File)

New Delhi:

The CBI has told the Supreme Court that efforts are being made by the Maharashtra government to frustrate the investigation against the state’s former home minister Anil Deshmukh by resorting to register such cases which are having overlapping effect over the case being probed by it.

The agency, in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, said the investigation in criminal cases lodged against former police commissioner Param Bir Singh deserve to be entrusted to the CBI for a complete, thorough and impartial probe.

“It is submitted that considering the reasons expressed by the High Court (Bombay) and this court in the cases concerning the subject matter, in the view of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the present set of issues highlighted by the petitioner (Mr Singh) and the cases mentioned deserve to be entrusted to the CBI for a complete, thorough and impartial investigation,” the agency said.

The CBI submitted that it has examined and recorded the statement/explanation of a number of individuals and collected relevant documents with respect to obtaining undue advantage from the Orchestra Bars and other such institutions in order to probe the improper and dishonest performance of public duty by the then Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh and others.

“It has also been learnt from the news and the news materials available in media that efforts are being made to frustrate the investigation so far conducted by CBI by resorting to register such cases which are having overlapping effect over the case being investigated by CBI,” the affidavit said.

“It is submitted that there is the need to ensure the integrity of the investigation being conducted by CBI… It is submitted that subject to a detailed analysis of the investigation of the State of Maharashtra in the said FIR, it is prima facie discernable that the same is an attempt to overreach the orders of the constitutional courts which vested the investigation with a Central Agency in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case exercise the power of judicial review,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit has been filed in response to an appeal filed by the former police commissioner against criminal cases lodged against him.

The agency said it prima facie appears that there is clearly an attempt to meddle in the court entrusted investigation carried on by the CBI and an attempt to jeopardise the same.

“It is submitted that in such circumstances, it is requested that this Court may exercise powers vested with it in order to ensure that such attempts by various quarters are thwarted once and for all,” the affidavit said.

The state police had earlier told the Supreme Court that Mr Singh cannot be considered as a “whistleblower” under the law as he chose to speak out against alleged corruption involving former home minister Anil Deshmukh only after his transfer.

The top court had granted a major relief to Mr Singh on November 22, 2021 by directing the Maharashtra Police not to arrest him in criminal cases lodged against him and had wondered if he was being hounded for filing cases against police officers and extortionists, “what could happen to a common man”.

Seeking dismissal of Mr Singh’s plea for a CBI probe into the entire matter and against any coercive action by the state, the Maharashtra government has filed a reply affidavit in the Supreme Court and said that the ongoing probe in criminal cases against the former top cop should not be interfered with.

Mr Singh was placed under suspension in December, 2021 after he was named as accused in at least five cases of alleged extortion in Mumbai and Thane.

Prior to this, the Bombay High Court had dismissed Mr Singh’s petition seeking to quash inquiries initiated against him by the Maharashtra government, and said he can approach the Central Administrative Tribunal.

The high court had held that it was a service matter, and rejected his claim that the government’s action was a consequence of his allegations of corruption against Mr Deshmukh.

After Mr Singh was removed as Mumbai police commissioner in March 2021 in the aftermath of the ‘Antilia bomb scare case’, in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, he levelled corruption allegations against Mr Deshmukh. In his petition, Mr Singh had also alleged that DGP Pande told him that the inquiries were the fall-out of his allegations against Mr Deshmukh, an NCP leader.

Mr Singh was transferred to the Home Guard after Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze was arrested in the case of an SUV with explosives found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house, ‘Antilia’, and the subsequent suspicious death of businessman Mansukh Hiran.

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