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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Anil Deshmukh case: Maharashtra govt trying to derail probe with belated allegations against Jaiswal, CBI tells HC

The case relates to former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh, through his March 20 letter to CM Uddhav Thackeray, accusing then home minister Deshmukh of corruption in transfer and postings of police officers.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: November 18, 2021 3:36:13 am
The court sent Anil Deshmukh to judicial custody till November 29. (File)

OPPOSING THE Maharashtra government’s plea seeking a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case pertaining to an FIR registered by the CBI against former state home minister Anil Deshmukh, the central agency on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that the plea was an attempt to scuttle and derail the probe.

The state has sought direction to stay the proceedings arising out of the CBI probe and raised grievance against summons issued by the agency to state Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte and DGP Sanjay Pandey, claiming that “highest officers” are being harassed.

After the Mumbai Police issued summons to CBI Director Subodh Kumar Jaiswal to appear before the BKC cyber police station in connection with an FIR registered into the “illegal” phone tapping and data leak case, the CBI had issued summons to Kunte and Pandey, asking them to appear before it in regard to the Deshmukh case.

The government, while seeking the constitution of a SIT under a retired HC judge, had last month said that as Jaiswal, also a former DGP of Maharashtra, was part of the Police Establishment Board (PEB) that was overseeing transfer and postings of police officers in question, the central agency cannot conduct an impartial and independent probe.

A division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Sarang V Kotwal on Wednesday was hearing the state’s plea against the CBI probe and summons issued to the senior officials. The CBI on Wednesday said that while Jaiswal was appointed as CBI director in May, the state did not raise its objections before the HC or Supreme Court and hence, the plea was filed belatedly.

Senior counsel Darius Khambata, representing Maharashtra, said that as the CBI probe was affecting the entire state police force, it had filed the plea under the parens patriae (power to protect persons who are unable to act on their own behalf) jurisdiction.

Khambata added that while the state does not want to delay or scuttle the investigation and wants “full, fair and public” probe, the CBI cannot continue with “compromised” and “predetermined” investigation, as its current director was “party signatory to the minutes of the PEB meetings” and used to oversee transfers and postings of police officers as then state DGP.

Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for CBI, said the state’s petition was “misconceived”. He added that if the state intended to initiate proceedings to probe allegations by Singh, it would have started it immediately. However, it did not do so, leading to the April 5 order initiating a preliminary probe by CBI.

“It shows there was no intent to investigate or inquire and to punish the wrongdoers. Therefore, the Maharashtra government is least competent by its conduct,” Lekhi said. “It is a make-believe plea with a strategy to target the CBI director, as state does not want the investigation,” he added.

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