The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said it expects the CBI to widen its investigation into the FIR filed against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, and added that the head of the administration cannot claim innocence and was equally responsible.
A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar said if true meaning has to be given to the April 5 order of the high court, directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to hold a preliminary inquiry against the allegations of corruption levelled against Deshmukh, then the role of every person has to be looked into.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Deshmukh seeking quashing of the FIR registered by the CBI on April 24 against him on charges of corruption and misuse of official position. The FIR was filed after the agency carried out a preliminary inquiry pursuant to directions from the HC.
In March this year, days after his removal from the post of Mumbai police commissioner, senior IPS officer Param Bir Singh had alleged that Deshmukh had asked police officers, including (now dismissed) cop Sachin Waze, to collect Rs 100 crore each month from bars and restaurants.
Whoever is the head of the administration cannot claim innocence by saying that he was only following orders from the executive. The head of the administration is also equally responsible. The minister might have told to reinstate Sachin Waze, but can the person holding the key and the top post simply obey the orders without performing his duties, the court said.
We expect the CBI to widen its probe. We hope that the CBI has now found out who the conspirators are, Justice Shinde said.
The bench said if Waze, who was arrested in the Antilia’ bomb scare case and killing of businessman Mansukh Hiran, was such a dangerous man then the committee that reinstated him into the police force should also be included in the list of accused.
We are not taking any names now. Who has inducted this inspector (Waze) after 15 years? the court questioned.
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for the CBI, told the court that the agency has so far ascertained who the conspirators are.
The CBI probe is comprehensive and no person will be excluded. The investigation is still at a preliminary stage, where the facts are hazy and hence at this stage one cannot form a prima facie opinion, Lekhi argued.
The bench pointed out to the order passed by the Supreme Court on April 8 refusing to hear a petition filed by Deshmukh against the HC order directing the CBI to carry out an inquiry against him, and said it referred to the home minister and commissioner of police working in confidence.
The CBI may have to make an inquiry and investigate about all this too, the court said.
Lekhi sought dismissal of the petition and said a CBI investigation into the case was warranted.
No action was taken by the Maharashtra government on the complaint letter written to the Chief Minister by the then (Mumbai) commissioner of police Param Bir Singh against Deshmukh, he said.
Deshmukh’s counsel Amit Desai argued that the CBI FIR lacked any evidence and did not disclose any offence.
The whole FIR goes on about how he (Deshmukh) tried to misuse his official position and take undue advantage. But there is no iota of evidence to support this allegation. No money was exchanged between Deshmukh or anyone, he said.
The court will continue hearing the matter on July 12.
Deshmukh resigned from the state cabinet in April this year after the high court ordered a CBI probe against him into allegations of corruption and misconduct levelled by Param Bir Singh.