The Supreme Court on Thursday, 8 April, dismissed pleas filed by the Maharashtra government as well as ex-home minister Anil Deshmukh against the Bombay High Court order of a preliminary CBI investigation against him and said:
“Nature of allegations and personas involved needs an enquiry by independent agency. It is a matter of public confidence. We are not inclined to entertain this.”
Observing that shunted top cop Param Bir Singh and former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh fell apart even after working closely together for two years, the top court bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta said that an independent probe was necessary in Singh’s allegations against Deshmukh.
“The person who made allegations was the right hand person of the minister. Let the independent agency look into it. It is hunky dory.”Supreme Court
‘Not an Enemy of Yours Who Made the Allegation,’ Says Court; ‘Vilified Unheard,’ Claims Deshmukh
The court told Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was appearing for the Maharashtra government: “It is not an enemy of yours who has made the allegation. The man was almost your right hand.”
Singhvi, on his part, pointed out, among other things, that central agency is investigating a matter in the state, even though the Maharashtra government has revoked the general consent for CBI probes.
Meanwhile Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Deshmukh, argued that the high court order was erroneous since it was passed without hearing him.
He also observed that Param Bir Singh’s letter is based on hearsay evidence, and he does not claim any direct knowledge of the allegations; which is why the HC ought to have heard Deshmukh before passing the order.
The SC meanwhile asked Sibal what was the harm in only a “preliminary investigation” – as had been ordered by the HC.
Sibal also argued that the HC cannot ask CBI to investigate on the basis of inadmissible evidence, that too without hearing the affected party.
Further he said that he would not object to a probe under the monitoring of the high court or the apex court but he does not want CBI, to which the court said: “You cannot pick and choose the agency.”
Sibal, in his arguments, also referred to a Supreme Court judgment, which refused to order a probe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Sahara-Birla papers case because the documents were not admissible evidence. Speaking for Deshmukh, he said:
“I am vilified unheard. I had to resign. If I was given an opportunity to bring my version on record, this would not have happened.”
The High Court Order
The probe was ordered by the HC on Monday over former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh’s plea levelling allegations of corruption, extortion, and other malpractices against Deshmukh.
The plea was filed by Singh after he was transferred from the post of Mumbai CP amid the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare probe.
The court had ordered for the investigation to be completed within 15 days, following which the CBI would decide on the course of action.
Anil Deshmukh Tenders Resignation
Meanwhile, the CBI on Tuesday said that it has registered a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption against Deshmukh.
The announcement came late on Tuesday night, hours after the Maharashtra government had moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s order.
Hours after the Bombay High Court directed the CBI probe, Deshmukh resigned from the post of Maharashtra Home Minister,
In his letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deshmukh wrote, “The Bombay High Court on 5 April, on the basis of the plea by advocate Jayshree Patil, ordered a preliminary investigation by the CBI against me. In the backdrop of the order, it doesn’t morally suit me to continue as the home minister. Hence, I have decided to step down from the post. I request you to relieve me from the same.”