Mumbai, April 5 (IANS) Portending fresh troubles for the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary probe into allegations of corruption levelled against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni has asked the CBI to complete its ‘preliminary probe’ within 15 days on the issues raised by Singh in his ‘letter-bomb’ last month.
However, the court said that the CBI need not register a First Information Report (FIR) immediately as the Maharashtra government has already set up a ‘high-level committee’ to probe the matter.
“The Government Resolution by the state government for a high-level committee leads us to believe that there is no interference required,” said Chief Justice Datta.
Terming the matter as ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’, the bench observed that Deshmukh is the Home Minister who leads the state police force and hence there should be an independent probe.
The court has asked the CBI to make its preliminary investigations in accordance with the law within 15 days and after that, the agency may use its discretion to decide the future course.
Besides Singh’s PIL, the court heard three other pleas filed by Ghanshyam Upadhyay seeking a court-monitored SIT, another by Mohan Bhide wanting a retired HC or SC judge to probe and a third by Jayshri Patil for a CBI or any other independent agency probe.
Shortly after the High Court verdict, the Bharatiya Janata Party Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded Deshmukh’s resignation to ensure an independent probe, and questioned the silence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other MVA leaders in the matter.
In his plea, Singh had sought a thorough probe by the CBI into his allegations that Deshmukh had asked arrested policeman Sachin Vaze ‘to collect’ Rs 100-crore per month and also challenged his own (Singh) transfer as Commandant-General, Home Guards.
The state had strongly objected to the plea on grounds that Singh made the allegations only because he was shunted out of his post as Mumbai police chief.