The Central Bureau of Investigation has asked the Bombay High Court to dismiss a petition filed by former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, claiming that any relief would jeopardise the investigation, which is still in its early stages, and that his petition was a "abuse of process of law.
The CBI has filed a reply affidavit in response to Deshmukh's petition, which challenges the FIR registered against him and unknown others under the Prevention of Corruption Act and section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to Deshmukh's petition, the agency did not seek permission to prosecute him because he was a public servant at the time the alleged offence was committed.It also claims that the case against him is biased, dubious, and filed with an ulterior motive to have him arrested "at the behest of those having political or other vendettas against him." It contends that no case of illegal gratification is made out under Section 7 of the PCA.
The CBI, on the other hand, cited the Bombay High Court order in its affidavit to seek denial of any relief to Deshmukh, claiming that there was no need to seek sanction because the agency was acting on the basis of a constitutional court's order.
A division bench of the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to conduct a Preliminary Enquiry into a complaint against Deshmukh and proceed "in accordance with law" based on the findings of the PE in an order issued on April 5, 2021. That bench was hearing a slew of PIL's, one of which was filed by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. It did, however, rule on a petition filed by advocate Jaishri Patil, who had also filed a complaint with a Mumbai police station.
On April 21, 2021, the CBI filed a FIR. Deshmukh is accused of setting an extortion target for Sachin Waze, then an Assistant Police Inspector with the Crime Investigation Unit of the Mumbai Police, to collect money from Mumbai bars, restaurants, and/or other establishments.
The CBI affidavit also refers to the Maharashtra Government's petition against the agency, in which the State questions the scope of the investigation. The complaint concerns Deshmukh's alleged knowledge of the now-dismissed API, Waze's reinstatement, and alleged intervention in police transfers/postings.
According to the CBI affidavit, "The State did not challenge the filing of the FIR against the current petitioner in its Writ Petition, but only sought to impugn certain parts of the FIR. As a result, the State is neither complaining about a lack of sanction nor claiming that no offence was committed against the then-Minister."
According to the affidavit, those two factors are part of the investigation into Deshmukh and are included in the complaint filed by advocate Patil and former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
"It is submitted that the allegations levelled by Ms Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil against Sh. Anil Deshmukh are related to illegal gains, corruption, extortion, criminal conspiracy, and so on, and it cannot be denied that political executives exercising undue influence over the transfer/posting of police officers may result in exercising undue influence over the performance of official duty by police officers.As a result, it is clear that the investigation into the transfer/posting of police officers is directly related to the allegations levelled by Sh. Param Bir Singh and Ms. Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil," the affidavit states.
"It is submitted that once during the course of after the conclusion of the preliminary investigation the commission of a cognizable offence emerges which are intrinsically connected with each other, the investigation must be made qua such offences without being inhibited by the initial PE," it continues.
It claims that investigations into Deshmukh cannot be completed in a "fair and just manner" unless the posting of Waze and other police officers, as well as the report of then-State Intelligence Department Head Rashmi Shukla, are investigated.
The petition will be heard on June 18, 2021.