June 23, 2021 11:35:29 pm
Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, while arguing against the CBI FIR naming him as a corruption accused, submitted before the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that the entire procedure to register FIR, after concluding preliminary enquiry (PE) initiated through an HC order, had been a case of overreach.
Referring to past judgments, Deshmukh’s counsel said the CBI was supposed to seek state’s consent after conclusion of the PE. He also contended that while the CBI was duty bound to follow the HC mandate of conducting PE, it could not claim the right to go beyond the same and register FIR.
A division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice NJ Jamadar commenced hearing Deshmukh’s writ petition challenging the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against him and unknown persons on charges of bribery, corruption and criminal conspiracy.
Terming the case “unprecedented,” the court had on April 5 initiated a PE based on a complaint by lawyer Jaishri Patil, which referred to former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’s March 20 letter to the Chief Minister, making corruption charges against Deshmukh and others.
Senior advocate Amit Desai, representing Deshmukh, submitted that the court ordered PE only because the letter by Singh was not sufficient to register FIR and said, “The letter can, at most, be some suspicion or whisper that may be heard in the corridors of the police commissioner office. Not a single person has come before the court to say the money was taken. There is no victim.”
Desai said Deshmukh had been “shamed and declared a devil” without any proof against him, adding the FIR and the probe did not disclose any substantial evidence. “Transfers and postings are policy issues. They (CBI) are getting into the whole process. The general allegations against the minister have created heartburn within the police establishment,” Desai said.
Desai argued that while the concept of PE was brought in as it was the “easiest way to accuse a public servant,” there were several safeguards to protect them, adding the court should consider the same and set aside FIR against Deshmukh.
Desai further said the CBI director should have sought the state’s permission or consent before registering FIR as per Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. “Once the PE is completed, the procedure is provided in the law. The investigating agency has a duty to conduct the probe, but not the right to do so,” he added.
HC will continue hearing Deshmukh’s arguments during the next hearing on July 2.
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