The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea of the Maharashtra government seeking to set aside two paragraphs related to transfer and posting of police officers, reinstatement of an officer from the Central Bureau of Investigation's FIR against former state home minister Anil Deshmukh.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said that it is not inclined to interfere with the July 22 order of the Bombay high court.
The top court said that it cannot dilute the direction of a constitutional court ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation probe by drawing a line for the agency on which aspect the investigation should be done.
“The CBI has to investigate all aspects of the allegations and we cannot limit them. This will be like denuding the powers of a constitutional court,” the bench said.
It said that an impression is being created that the state is trying to protect the former home minister by not allowing the probe on the aspect of transfer and posting of police officers and reinstatement of additional police inspector Sachin Waze.
The bench said, “Which state government is going to order CBI, when the allegations are against its own home minister or any other minister. It is the court, which will have to exercise its power to order the probe and that what the high court did".
The top court said that Maharashtra government should allow free and fair investigation by CBI into the issue and it should be open as there is nothing to hide.
Advocate Rahul Chitnis, appearing for the Maharashtra government, said the state has withdrawn consent for the CBI probe and the high court direction for a probe was limited to allegations of collection of money from bars and restaurants and not on transfer, posting of police officers and reinstatement of Waje into the police force.
He said that letter of former Mumbai commissioner of police Param Bir Singh to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray only alleged about collection of Rs 100 crore from bar and restaurants.
Chitnis said that the Bombay high court had said that Param Bir Singh can avail remedy before appropriate forum with respect to undue consideration taken by then minister for transfer and posting of police officials.
The bench said that like police has power to investigate anything related to the FIR registered, similarly CBI has to investigate all aspects related to the averment made in the letter of Param Bir Singh.
“We cannot draw a line and tell CBI that you can investigate this and you cannot investigate that. It has to look into the manner the transfer and posting was done during the tenure of former minister,” the bench said.
The top court said that investigation is not against the state but against a former minister and state should be open to the investigation by CBI as there is nothing to hide.
“Sorry, we are not inclined to interfere with the high court verdict,” the bench said and dismissed the petition.
On July 22, the High Court said the CBI can inquire into the transfer and postings of police personnel and the reinstatement of Waze in the Mumbai Police force "so far as this has a nexus with Maharashtra's former home minister Anil Deshmukh and his associates".
The high court, in its judgment, had remarked that the allegations of corruption and misconduct levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh against Deshmukh and if the reinstatement of Waze in 2020 after so many years of suspension had any quid pro quo (a favour/advantage granted in return for something), then it is a matter of investigation.
The court had dismissed a petition filed by the Maharashtra government seeking that two paragraphs from the CBI's FIR against Deshmukh be set aside.
While one paragraph is about allegations (of extortion) levelled against the NCP leader by former Assistant Police Inspector Waze, dismissed from service after his arrest in the Antilia bomb scare case, the second one pertains to alleged corruption in transfers and postings of police officials.
“The investigating agency (CBI), in our view, can legitimately carry on its inquiry into the transfer and postings of police personnel and the reinstatement of Sachin Waze in the police force after 15 years, so far as this has a nexus with the former home minister (Deshmukh) and his associates,” the court had said.
The high court had noted that the allegations of extortion of money and attempts to influence investigations and transfer of particular officers to achieve these objectives "form an inseparable part of the alleged conspiracy".
In March this year, Singh, in a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, had levelled allegations of corruption against Deshmukh.
The CBI, on April 21 this year, registered an FIR against Deshmukh on charges of corruption and misuse of official position.
The FIR was lodged after the agency conducted a preliminary enquiry against the NCP leader following an order from the HC on April 5.
Waze, now in jail, had claimed he was asked to collect money from bar and restaurant owners in Mumbai allegedly on instructions of Deshmukh, who has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.
Deshmukh had resigned from the cabinet after the HC directed the CBI to conduct a probe into the allegations of corruption and misconduct levelled against him. The NCP leader has consistently denied any wrongdoing.