The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption levelled against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Observing that the case before them was "unprecedented" where allegations were made against a state home minister who controls the police, the high court added that, "There has to be an independent enquiry." However, since the state has already directed a probe by a high-level committee there was "no need to register FIR immediately", the division bench added.
The CBI is allowed to conduct a preliminary inquiry (PE) in accordance with the law and the same must be completed within 15 days, the bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta said. The CBI Director can decide on a further course of action once the PE is complete, the bench added.
The high court's decision came on a batch of pleas that sought an independent inquiry—court-monitored or CBI—in the allegations levelled by Singh. In his plea, Singh submitted that he had written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackerey and other ministers about meetings undertaken by Deshmukh and his interference in the functioning of the police. However, instead of taking action against Deshmukh, Singh said he was transferred from his post as the police commissioner. Singh's plea further pointed out that Rashmi Shukla, Commissioner Intelligence, State Intelligence Department had also been unceremoniously transferred after she alerted the Director General of Police about Deshmukh's alleged malpractices in August 2020.
In March, Singh, who was transferred as Director General Home Guards, had moved the Supreme Court seeking a court-monitored probe in the corruption charges against Deshmukh. Singh had told the apex court that Deshmukh met now suspended police officer Sachin Vaze and Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjay Patil and had directed them to collect Rs 100 crores monthly from various establishments. The former top cop had also challenged his transfer alleging that it was done in an "illegal and arbitrary" manner.
The SC however refused to interfere in the plea and observed that "concerned parties were hunky-dory for a long time" but allegations were now coming out after they fell apart before directing Singh to move the high court instead.