Bombay HC orders CBI probe into Param Bir Singh’s letter

Ex-Mumbai Police chief had accused Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of extortion

The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to initiate a preliminary inquiry within 15 days into the letter by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh containing allegations of corruption against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.

In a 56-page order, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni said, “Mr. 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 the CBI.”

The court also that said a probe by an independent agency was necessary to “instil public confidence and safeguard the Fundamental Rights of the citizens”. Following the high court’s direction, Mr. Deshmukh submitted his resignation.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by Mr. Singh seeking an independent CBI probe into his March 20 letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and a criminal writ petition by advocate Jaishri Patil, filed the next day, with the Malabar Hill police station and the Director ofthe Anti-Corruption Bureau of the CBI.

Dr. Patil’s complaint said, “The letter [by Mr. Singh] should have been immediately given to the concerned police station as an FIR [First Information Report] under Section 154 (information in cognisable cases) of the Criminal Procedure Code, as a senior police officer and an offence was required to be registered but the same has not happened.” However, since nothing was done, she filed a criminal writ petition (CrWP) before the high court, urging for a direction to the CBI or Enforcement Directorate or any independent agency to conduct a fair investigation into the various alleged corrupt malpractices of Mr. Deshmukh.

Serious issue, says court

The court said, “The jurisdictional fact for setting the criminal law in motion is traceable in the CrWP of Dr. Patil… She has brought to the notice of this Court the failure of the Senior Police Inspector, Malabar Hill Police Station, to follow the legislative mandate as in Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The issue raised by her is quite serious and we do not think that it would be prudent to refuse interference only on such ground.”

The court also said once the preliminary inquiry is completed, the Director, CBI, shall be at liberty to decide on the future course of action, also in accordance with the law. “Should the Director, CBI, see no reason to proceed further, Dr. Patil shall be duly informed of the same,” the court added.

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