MUMBAI: Senior NCP leader and former state home minister Anil Deshmukh on Friday told the Bombay High Court bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Nizamoodin Jamadar that the entire probe against him by the CBI in the alleged Rs 100 crore corruption case was illegal. The politician further said that he can't be denied justice especially when a dreaded terrorist like Ajmal Kasab was given the benefit of law in this country.
Deshmukh through senior counsel Amit Desai pointed out that the bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta while ordering the preliminary enquiry against him had specifically ordered the CBI to "take further action in accordance with law."
"This accordance with law is nothing but the section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act which mandates a prior sanction to prosecute a public servant," Desai pointed out, adding, "But the CBI didn't apply for a sanction to prosecute the former minister. It has directly registered an FIR while bypassing this mandatory provision of law."
"Thus, in my humble submission, the entire enquiry conducted is illegal," the senior counsel argued.
Desai further said that a mere whisper (of corruption allegations) got misunderstood when a probe was ordered.
At this the judges pointed out that the bench led by CJ Datta had given a 'prima facie opinion' and had ordered enquiry accordingly to which Desai said, "But it did not direct registration of FIR, just a preliminary enquiry and then there was a caveat to act in accordance with law."
During the hearing, Desai pointed out that in 1993 Harshad Mehta had levelled certain corruption allegations against former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. "Allegations can be made. It was in the Ballroom of Taj, with the galaxy of the best lawyers. Every allegation doesn't mean corruption," Desai argued.
Further, the bench sought to know if section 17A can be made applicable to a probe ordered by a court of law.
"When the constitutional court deviates from the procedure and orders an enquiry, there is very heavy burden on the court," Desai responded.
"Exception is only in court monitored cases," Desai pointed out, adding, "The CBI have a duty to apply for permission to the state under 17A of the PC Act. It's because it is very easy for a false allegation to be made. This law is with the maximum criticism and the maximum protection."
In his detailed submissions, Desai further argued that the procedure laid down by the law and also the Supreme Court cannot be bypassed by the agency.
"Even Kasab got the benefit of the rule of the law of this country," Desai submitted.
Further arguing on the facts of the case, Desai submitted that the FIR reveals that in the preliminary enquiry the agency hasn't found any "substantial material."
The arguments would continue on Monday.