The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and its former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh today asked the Supreme Court to cancel a preliminary CBI probe ordered into allegations of corruption against him. The Bombay High Court had on Monday sought the probe based on a criminal writ petition related to charges leveled by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. A team of the investigating agency was to reach Mumbai today to initiate the process.
In his petition to the Supreme Court, Mr Deshmukh has argued that the High court could not order such a probe against him without giving him an opportunity to explain. He also based his plea on the fact that the CBI itself was headed by an interim director and the case related to the matter was being in heard in court.
Mr Singh, in his plea filed on March 25, sought such a probe against Mr Deshmukh who, he claimed, had asked police officers, including suspended cop Sachin Waze, to extort Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants. Mr Waze has been arrested by the NIA in connection with the probe into the explosive-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai. The petition also alleged corruption on his part in police transfers and postings.
Even though the High Court questioned Mr Singh for not filing a case against Mr Deshmukh till then, it said a probe by an independent agency was necessary to “instill public confidence and safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens”. The High Court also considered a criminal writ petition filed by Mumbai lawyer Jayshree Patil seeking a CBI probe into, and said that the situation arising out of Mr Singh’s allegations were “extraordinary” and “unprecedented”, warranting an independent inquiry.
Within hours of the High Court order yesterday, Mr Deshmukh resigned, citing moral grounds. Both he and his party, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party, have denied the allegations. They have said that Mr Singh, removed from the Mumbai Commissioner’s post over the alleged mishandling of the Ambani bomb-scare case, was trying to divert attention from his own affairs.
Jayashree Patil, the Mumbai lawyer, has filed a caveat in the Supreme Court, asking the court to hear her side before passing any orders on the Maharashtra government and Mr Deshmukh’s pleas.