Updated: May 7, 2021 4:57:33 am
The Bombay High Court Thursday directed the CBI to respond to a writ plea by former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh filed against the FIR by the CBI against him and unknown persons on charges of bribery, corruption and criminal conspiracy. The Court adjourned the hearing after the CBI sought 4-week time to respond to the plea.
The Court refused to grant immediate interim protection to Deshmukh and said that he can approach the vacation bench with 48-hour notice to respondent CBI in case of extreme urgency.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale was hearing a plea by Deshmukh, who approached the court on Monday seeking to quash FIR filed by CBI on April 21.
Senior Counsel Amit Desai for Deshmukh argued that at this stage, his client was merely seeking interim relief from coercive action.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh representing CBI sought time so as to enable him to seek instructions from officers to respond to the petition. The Court said that it cannot pass any interim order until it hears the parties to the case and it was ‘inclined to give’ reasonable time to CBI to respond to the plea.
“However, the petitioner has the liberty to move before the vacation bench with 48-hour prior notice to the other side in case of extreme urgency,” the High Court said.
The CBI had initiated a probe against Deshmukh after the Bombay HC directed it to carry out a preliminary inquiry into corruption allegations of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh against then Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
Terming the case “unprecedented”, the court on April 5 had asked the CBI to complete the preliminary probe as early as possible, preferably within 15 days, after which the CBI director was at liberty to take a “further course of action”.
Three days after he was removed as Mumbai Police Commissioner and posted to the Home Guards, Singh wrote a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray alleging that Deshmukh asked suspended and arrested assistant police inspector Sachin Waze to collect Rs 100 crore every month, including Rs 40-50 crore from 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
According to the probe agency, its PE had found that Deshmukh was aware of the reinstatement of 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 bomb scare and the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran.
The CBI had also said it will probe Deshmukh’s role in exercising “undue influence” over the transfer and posting of police officials as alleged by Singh.
Meanwhile, the HC also granted liberty to the state government to move its petition before the vacation bench seeking to set aside two ‘unnumbered paragraphs’ from the corruption FIR registered by CBI on April 21 against Deshmukh and other unknown persons
The two unnumbered paragraphs mentioned in FIR pertained to allegations against Deshmukh of exercising ‘undue influence’ for transfer and posting of police officials and another charge that he was aware of the reinstatement of now suspended assistant police inspector (API) Sachin Waze into the police after 15 years.
The plea filed by the state on April 30 said, “This act of respondent CBI clearly demonstrates that the registration of FIR on these impugned issues clearly demonstrates malafide. This is clearly intended to carry out fishing and roving inquiry into the administration of the state government in order to try and find out some material enabling political groups that are presently not in power in the petitioner state to try and destabilize the present government in Maharashtra.”
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