The Bombay HC today allowed the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to conduct a preliminary investigation into corruption allegations against Anil Deshmukh, Maharashtra Home Minister. The allegations were made by former Police Commissioner of Mumbai, Param Bir Singh. The ruling came from the bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni.

“Director of CBI is allowed to conduct preliminary inquiry. Such preliminary inquiry be ordered in accordance with law and be concluded within 15 days Once the preliminary inquiry is complete, director CBI (would) be at discretion to (decide on the) further course of action”, the bench said, on Monday, April 5.

Just last week, the Bombay High Court had reserved order on pleas filed in this particular matter, including one by Param Bir Singh. The Bombay HC came to the decision while it was hearing a PIL filed by Param Bir who sought a CBI investigation against Anil Deshmukh.

Singh’s Letter to Maharashtra CM Thackeray

Singh, recently was in the news for writing a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for writing a litter which he alleged that Deshmukh had asked Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze to “collect” Rs. 100 crores every month from several bars, restaurants and other establishments. It should be noted that Sachin Waze was arrested last month by the NIA in the Ambani Car Bomb Scare case.

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Singh moves to Bombay HC

After that, Singh moved to the Bombay HC and filed a PIL seeking a CBI probe against Deshmukh. However, the Bombay HC asked Singh why he did not file the FIR against Deshmukh if he was aware of the Home Minister’s engagement in extortion.

“Where is FIR?” Bombay High Court asks Singh

The court asked Singh and shared insight of the maintainability of the PIL saying, “Where is FIR? You have to approach the police/agency with FIR. Our prima facie observation [with respect to prayer seeking CBI probe] is that there cannot be investigation without FIR.”

“The petitioner [Singh] is no lay person. He is a senior police officer. If he has no faith in the police, what about the general public? He knows the registration of complaints is not just recording of facts by the police. Without an FIR, seeking CBI probe seems to be harsh. Your [Singh] duty was to file FIR, and not simply write a letter to the Chief Minister. We can say you remained silent despite there being an offence,” the court added.

Singh’s counsel Vikram Nankani said that though Singh brought to light several malpractices of Deshmukh in his letter to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, no action was taken. Hence, he had to turn to the Bombay HC to seek justice.

CBI gets directed by Bombay HC for independent unbiased probe

On Monday, April 5, the Bombay HC also passed an order on a plea by Jaishri Patil, a Mumbai-based lawyer who also sought an investigation by CBI into allegations made by Singh.

“We agree with Jaishri Patil that directions are required to order an unbiased probe to unearth the truth. There can be no independent probe if it is given to Police as Deshmukh is HM. The interest of justice will be done if the Director of CBI is allowed to conduct a preliminary inquiry.”

Patil’s independent plea also sought directions to get her hands on the CCTV footage of all the locations where the criminal activity took place in the Antilla bomb-scare. The Bombay HC said that the CBI does not need to register an FIR to take up Patil’s complaint.

“There has to be an independent enquiry. But CBI need not register FIR immediately or take up Patil’s complaint,” the court said.

Update: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh Resigns

Anil Deshmukh on Monday resigned as the Home Minister of Maharashtra after a few hours of Bombay High Court directing CBI to carry out a preliminary investigation into allegations of corruption made by former Mumbai Police Commissioner. The minister cited “moral grounds” as the reason for his resignation. In his resignation, Mr. Deshmukh wrote, “I don’t want to continue as Home Minister as an investigation is on.”