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Supreme Court upholds CBI probe on Anil Deshmukh

Top court dismisses Maharashtra government's plea challenging Bombay High Court's order
Anil Deshmukh
Anil Deshmukh
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Our Legal Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 09.04.21, 01:54 AM

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the appeal filed by the Maharashtra government and its former home minister Anil Deshmukh challenging the CBI probe ordered into allegations of extortion against him.

Bombay High Court had ordered the probe by the central agency on former police commissioner Param Bir Singh’s allegation that Deshmukh had directed cops to extort Rs 100 crore every month from businesses and bars.

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A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta, after hearing the arguments of senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Deshmukh and Abhishek Manu Singhvi for the Maharashtra government, upheld the CBI probe on the ground that the matter involved serious allegations against people of high standing.

The court  pointed out that there was no business or political rivalry between Deshmukh and Singh.

The Supreme Court order, dictated by Justice Kaul, said: “… We are of the view that the nature of allegations, the personas involved and the seriousness of the allegations do require an independent agency to inquire into the matter. It is a matter of public confidence, given the factual scenario.

“We may also add that what has been directed is only a preliminary inquiry albeit by an independent agency. We are unable to accept the contentions… of Dr A.M. Singhvi, learned senior counsel, that merely because the Home Minister has resigned after the impugned order would be a factor not to direct enquiry by an independent agency.

“The two personas held post of Home Minister and Commissioner of Police for a long period and the latter would be a post of confidence of the former. Further, we are unable to accept the contention… of Mr Kapil Sibal, learned senior counsel, that even for directing a preliminary inquiry, the petitioner Mr Anil Deshmukh is mandatorily entitled to be heard in his individual capacity even though the State Government was represented and he was a Minister at that time.

“For the aforesaid reasons, we are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order(s). The special leave petitions are dismissed.” 

Sibal had submitted during the arguments that “it will be a sad day in this country if you uphold an order like this. Such an order cannot be passed behind my back.”

He had said Singh’s PILs in Bombay High Court on the basis of which the CBI probe was ordered had been based merely on allegations and that no notice had been served on Deshmukh.
“Setting criminal law in motion is fraught with serious consequences,” Sibal argued.

The court orally observed: “All these problems are arising because of the fallout that has happened. Allegations are extremely serious and it has become curious and curious. In this scenario, is it not a CBI probe case?”

The bench also said that the state was under an obligation to register an FIR as soon as the allegations surfaced. Further, Deshmukh did not resign even after a commission of inquiry was set up. It was only when the high court ordered a CBI probe that he chose to quit, the court observed.

“Looking at the personas involved and the seriousness of the allegations, an independent inquiry is called for. You can’t say it affects the federal structure. This does not happen every day. Both have been made heads of institutions where something has gone wrong.” 



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