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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

CBI justifies inclusion of ‘unnumbered paragraphs’ in Deshmukh FIR in Bombay High Court

Opposing the state government challenge to the inclusion of the two paragraphs, the CBI told the court there was no restriction on the type of probe it could carry out.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
May 20, 2021 3:14:42 am
Anil Deshmukh, Anil Deshmukh booked, Anil Deshmukh bribery case, former Maharashtra home minister booked, Maharashtra news, Indian expressFormer Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh. (Express Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

In a late night hearing Wednesday, the CBI justified before the Bombay High Court two “unnumbered paragraphs” in its FIR against former state home minister Anil Deshmukh, which the state government pleaded were included to “destabilise” it.

Opposing the state government challenge to the inclusion of the two paragraphs, the CBI told the court there was no restriction on the type of probe it could carry out.

One of the paragraphs stated that “the central agency in its Preliminary Enquiry (PE) had found that former state home minister Anil Deshmukh was aware of the reinstatement of now suspended assistant police inspector (API) Sachin Waze into the police after 15 years and sensitive and sensational cases being given to Waze for investigation”.

Waze is being probed by the NIA for his alleged role in the Ambani house terror scare case and the subsequent murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran.

The second “unnumbered” paragraph stated that Deshmukh and others exercised “undue influence” over the transfer and postings of police officers as alleged by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

The plea filed by the state government said that the registration of FIR on these two issues shows ”it was intended to give material to opposition parties to destabilize Maharashtra government.”

A vacation bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade conducted a late night hearing on the plea by the state government seeking directions to set aside the two paragraphs from the April 21 FIR. The state government had moved HC on April 30. On May 6, the Court had granted liberty to the state government to move its petition before the vacation bench. A division bench led by Justice Kathawalla heard 80 matters beginning 10.45 am on Wednesday morning until 11pm without a break. It kept the hearing on the state’s plea against CBI FIR for the very end. The hearing began around 10.45 pm and went on for a few minutes past 11 pm. Pending the hearing, the state government, through senior counsel Rafiq Dada, sought interim relief of a stay on the two contentious paragraphs and direction to CBI to restrain from investigating the same or taking any action.

Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, representing CBI, submitted that ordinarily, the central agency cannot investigate without consent of the state, but exception has been carved out in the case as the HC had directed CBI to conduct a PE and thereafter, to take “proper course of action”. “There is no restriction on the type of preliminary probe or FIR to be registered as a consequence of the inquiry,” ASG Raju said and justified the inclusion of unnumbered paragraphs.

The CBI had initiated a probe against Deshmukh after the HC, on April 5, directed it to carry out a PE into former Commissioner Singh’s corruption allegations against the former minister. The CBI registered FIR on April 21.
The state government, in its plea, maintained that it does not want to interfere in the CBI probe against Deshmukh and others beyond these two allegations, which were not mandated to be investigated as per the April 5 HC order.

The state had said that CBI introduced these two issues beyond the HC directive and the same were not even referred to in Singh’s letter dated March 20 and/or in the complaint filed by lawyer Jaishri Patil at Malabar Hill Police station, based on Singh’s letter, which was referred to by HC while ordering PE.

HC will hear state’s plea next on Friday, May 21 at 3pm.

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