MUMBAI: Observing that it will not countenance violation of constitutional principles of integrity by anyone howsoever high an office he may hold, the Bombay high court on Monday, while asking the CBI to conduct a preliminary probe into allegations of “corrupt malpractices” against home minister Anil Deshmukh, said the “Constitution envisages a rule of law and not rule of goons having political support.”
Former city police chief Param Bir Singh had in a letter to CM Uddhav Thackeray accused Deshmukh of setting a monthly “collection” target of Rs 100 crore.
“It is unheard of and un precedented that a minister could be so openly accused of wrongdoings and corrupt practices by none other than a senior police officer,” said an HC bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni.
The bench added the allegations by Singh “discloses commission of cognizable offences by Deshmukh” and prima facie should be been acted on, under the law.
“Deshmukh is the home minister. The police department is under his control and direction… There can be no fair, impartial, unbiased and untainted probe, if the same were entrusted to the state police force. As of necessity, the probe has to be entrusted to an independent agency like CBI,” the HC said, disposing of Singh’s PIL and three other petitions.
“Although we do not see an immediate reason to direct registration of an FIR by the CBI based on (advocate Jaishri) Patil’s complaint, interests of justice will be served if there is a CBI preliminary inquiry into the complaint,” the court said.
Patil had made a complaint on March 21 to the Mala bar Hill police citing Singh’s letter. “Once preliminary inquiry is conducted preferably within 15 days… CBI will be at liberty to decide on the future course,” said the HC, noting that Deshmukh’s press release said he was “not averse to facing any inquiry”.
The order was passed after a lengthy hearing on the first day and no notice was issued to Deshmukh, one of the respondents. The HC said since no respondents were invited to file reply, allegations against them shall not be deemed to have been admitted by them. The HC heard at length state advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni’s objection to maintainability of Singh’s PIL for a CBI probe against Deshmukh in the absence of an FIR.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, for CBI, said it was willing to probe Singh’s allegations but left it to the HC to decide in what form or by which agency. The HC noted Patil’s March 21 complaint had not resulted in an FIR being filed yet and was “not given the attention it deserved”.
Her petition presented an “extraordinary” case, said the HC, noting that the AG never said her complaint does not disclose an cognizable offence but “has been fair to say… it was not processed.”