The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to entertain petitions by the Maharashtra government and former state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, challenging the Bombay High Court order directing a preliminary enquiry by the CBI into corruption allegations levelled by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. The top court termed the allegations as serious and said it requires a CBI probe.
"Allegations are serious, the home minister and Police commissioner are involved. They're closely working together till they fall apart, both holding a particular position. Should the CBI not probe? The nature of allegations and the persons involved require an independent probe," said a bench comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta.
The top court was convinced with the Bombay High Court order and without hearing the arguments of opposite parties, dismissed the petitions filed by the Maharashtra government and Deshmukh.
"He (Deshmukh) did not resign when the state set up a Commission of Enquiry. He quit after a High Court order. He was clinging to office," it observed.
During the hearing, the bench also remarked that the former Mumbai Police Commissioner, who made the allegations against him, was not Deshmukh's enemy but instead, "was almost his right-hand man".
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Deshmukh, submitted that allegations against his client were only a scandal and have no evidentiary value, and cannot become ground for a CBI probe into the matter. As he insisted that his client should have been heard before the High Court passed the order for CBI enquiry, the bench noted that CBI investigation into the matter is not an attack on the federal structure.
Earlier this week, the Maharashtra government and Deshmukh had filed a plea challenging the Bombay High Court order directing a CBI probe into the money extortion allegations.
The state government in its petition had questioned the procedure that was adopted by the HC in passing the order. The state was heard on the question of maintainability of the pleas seeking CBI inquiry against Deshmukh and the order too was reserved on that issue but the court finally ended up directing the probe on April 5, the plea added.
Demanding a CBI enquiry into Deshmukh, Param Bir Singh, in his plea filed on March 25, said the minister asked police officers, including suspended cop Sachin Vaze, to extort Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants.
Refuting all allegations, Deshmukh resigned from the Maharashtra government citing 'moral' grounds hours after the April 5 HC order directing a probe into his conduct.
“The high court asked the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry. In the wake of the court’s decision, I don’t feel morally right to continue on the position of the home minister. Hence, I have decided to step down from this position on my own,” read Deshmukh’s letter to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.