The CBI has told the Supreme Court that there appears to be an “attempt to meddle…and jeorpardise” its investigation into allegations of corruption against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
In an affidavit filed in the top court, the CBI, which took up the probe following a Bombay High Court order, referred to SC’s November 22 order that referred to exchanges between former Mumbai Police commissioner Parambir Singh and his successor, Sanjay Pandey.
The agency stated, “from perusal…it prima facie appears that there is clearly an attempt to meddle in court-entrusted investigation carried on by CBI and, further, an attempt to jeopardise the same.”
Considering this, CBI urged the court to “ensure that such attempts by various quarters are thwarted once and for all”.
The CBI also said media reports seemed to indicate attempts to frustrate the probe by registering cases with overlapping effect.
On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta formulated the agency’s concerns. “The overlapping is so apparent that my apprehension is that the state police might do something, making the court’s task more difficult. A coverup or something…” he told a bench of Justices S K Kaul and M M Sundresh.
The top court’s November 22 order, while referring to the transcript of exchanges between Singh and Pandey, said “The sum and substance of the discussion was that the matter was broached by the Commissioner, who advised him (Singh) not to fight against the system and in effect withdraw the letter sent to the Chief Minister (Uddhav Thackeray) making complaints against the Home Minister (Deshmukh), as otherwise the consequences could be varied.”
The CBI affidavit was filed in response to a petition by Singh praying for entrusting cases registered by Maharashtra Police against him to CBI, as they are interlinked with cases against Deshmukh.
Responding to the plea, CBI said in the affidavit that some of the cases against Singh are overlapping and should also be given to it “for a complete, thorough and impartial investigation”.
Pointing out that its investigation is proceeding, CBI said that in the meanwhile it has been learnt from “news…in media that efforts are being made to frustrate the investigation” “by resorting to register such cases (with) overlapping effect over case being investigated by CBI”.
Referring to one FIR registered in this connection at Mumbai’s Goregaon police station on July 20, 2021, CBI said that “subject to a detailed analysis of the investigation of the State of Maharashtra in the FIR…it is prima facie discernable that the same is an attempt to overreach” the April 5, 2021 order of Bombay HC, entrusting the probe against Deshmukh to it [CBI], and the SC order on April 8 last year dismissing an appeal challenging the HC direction.
The HC order came on a PIL by Mumbai-based lawyer Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil, who referred to Singh’s eight-page letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleging that Deshmukh had asked assistant police inspector Sachin Waze to collect Rs 100 crore every month, including Rs 40 crore to Rs 50 crore from 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
Waze is currently in NIA custody in connection with the bomb scare case.
On November 22, SC had granted Singh interim protection from arrest while allowing the state police to continue with their probe. It also sought a reply from CBI on Singh’s prayer to hand over the cases against him to the central agency.
On Tuesday, the bench told Singh’s counsel, “This is the same police force that you headed. Now…the head of the police force has no trust in the police force; the administration has no trust in the police. This is a disturbing scenario.”
The bench adjourned the matter on being told that Maharashtra had filed an appeal challenging the Bombay HC order, refusing to appoint an SIT to probe allegations made by Singh against Deshmukh.