The Bombay High Court on Wednesday dismissed the Maharashtra government’s petition seeking formation of a Special Investigation team (SIT) to probe the corruption case against former home minister Anil Deshmukh, while casting aspersions on the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is currently probing the case in pursuant to an earlier High Court order of April this year.
A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Sarang Kotwal also rejected the government's plea for quashing the summons issued to its chief secretary Sitaram Kunte and director general of police Sanjay Pandey by the CBI.
“Considering the totality of the circumstances, including the conduct of the petitioner (State government), as is apparent from the judicial orders and manifest from records, the petitioner is not entitled to any relief. There is no substance in the contention of the petitioner that the respondent -- the CBI -- is dis-entitled to carry out investigation in the matter. No case is made out for withdrawing the investigation from the CBI and entrusting it to the Special Investigation Team, as prayed for,” observed the High Court.
In its 74-page judgment, the court has passed scathing comments against the government's conduct, through the entire Anil Deshmukh-Parambir Singh episode. The judges even went on to say that they found merit in the CBI's submission that the Maharashtra government's plea was an attempt to “scuttle the investigation” against Deshmukh.
The High Court noted that when former Mumbai police commissioner Singh first raised the issue of misconduct on Deshmukh's part, the government did not initiate any inquiry. The government did not even register an FIR, when lawyer Jaishree Patil filed a complaint against both Deshmukh and Singh at the Malabar Hill police station.
It was on Patil's plea that another bench of the High Court directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry against Deshmukh in April this year.
The High Court said: “In conclusion, we find merit in the charge of the CBI that this petition is nothing but an extension of the stand of petitioner to scuttle the investigation.”
"Considering the manner in which the petitioner has conducted itself in relation to this FIR and the way in which the petition has been presented, assuming locus, we are not satisfied that the prayer of the petitioner for recalling investigation from the CBI to itself is bona fide," it said.
The High Court also dismissed the government’s argument that the present CBI director Subodh Jaiswal was the DGP during Deshmukh's tenure as home minister and was potentially the subject matter of the investigation.
“Tying these facets with the petitioner's conduct noted earlier, it appears to us that this submission of the petitioner based on the role of Respondent no.2 (Jaiswal) is only an attempt by the petitioner to take the investigation somehow away from the respondent CBI, so that it does not proceed,” said the court.
It further said that the state government 's prayer for constituting an SIT would mean taking the probe away from the CBI, an independent agency, and leaving it in effect, under the state's control. The same would defeat the purpose of the high court's April 5 order.
“Before parting, we clarify that our observations in this judgment as regards conduct and bona fides of the petitioner are not to be construed as an indictment of the State of Maharashtra in general but they are in context as a party in this litigation and as an adjudication of the issue raised in this petition,” added the High Court.