The CBI Wednesday detained the lawyer of former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, questioned the NCP leader’s son-in-law and arrested a Sub-Inspector of the agency in connection with the alleged leak of an official report on its investigation into allegations of policemen being coerced by Deshmukh to collect bribes on his behalf.
The agency let Deshmukh’s son-in-law, Gaurav Chaturvedi, go after a few hours but detained lawyer Anand Daga, who was travelling with him when their car was intercepted by the CBI at Worli Seaface at around 7 pm.
Later, the CBI said in a statement that it has registered a case against Daga, Sub-Inspector Abhishek Tiwari and unknown others on allegations, including “illegal gratification”. “During the investigation of said (Deshmukh) case, CBI has today arrested the Sub Inspector. The said advocate is being questioned. Searches were conducted at Allahabad and Delhi,” the CBI spokesperson said.
The CBI investigation against Deshmukh began after former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh alleged that the then Minister was forcing policemen to collect bribes on his behalf from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
According to the leaked document, which is the purported Preliminary Enquiry (PE) report signed by Investigating Officer DySP RS Gunjiyal, no cognizable offence was made out against Deshmukh.
The CBI has not denied the veracity of the document, the contents of which were tweeted by Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant and later reported by some sections of the media over the weekend. But a CBI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the document was not the final PE but an “initial” enquiry report submitted by the IO.
“The enquiry report goes through several rounds of consultation and takes into consideration the opinion of legal officers as well. Eventually, the superior officer takes a decision whether a case has to be registered or not,” the official said.
Spotlight on CBI
The signal from the CBI is that there will be no let-up in its probe against the NCP leader. But the central agency too will come under the spotlight for the purported Preliminary Enquiry report that found no offence was made out against Deshmukh.
Meanwhile, family members of Deshmukh alleged that the agency had picked up Chaturvedi and Daga illegally without issuing any notice or allowing them to inform their families. The NCP and ruling ally Congress targeted the BJP-led Central Government and alleged that the CBI move was politically motivated.
However, a CBI officer told The Indian Express that Nagpur-based Daga, who is representing Deshmukh in the case, was taken in for questioning as he had allegedly bribed the Sub-Inspector involved in the PE. “There is evidence to show that the lawyer bribed an officer working at a level below the investigating officer in the case during the PE. The enquiry is on,” the officer said.
Deshmukh’s family members alleged that Chaturvedi and Daga were forcibly driven to the CBI office. “It was only after the caretaker informed the family members did they come to know about what had transpired. The family members went to the Worli police station to file a complaint. None of the procedures laid down by law was followed by the CBI,” said a person close to Deshmukh’s family.
Speaking to reporters, NCP leader Nawab Malik said: “No rules were followed. We don’t know whether there is a law of the land or law of the rulers in this country. The CBI has to clarify under what rules they did this.”
Congress spokesperson Sawant described the CBI action as “a serious issue”. Targeting the Centre, Sawant tweeted: “’Modishahi’ is going on across the country and rules and regulations are not being followed. The Modi government has shown that whatever they do becomes the law. The incident is condemned.”
After the CBI FIR, the ED had also booked Deshmukh and two of his aides in connection with a money laundering case. The aides, Sanjay Palande and Kundan Shinde, have been arrested and chargesheeted.
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