Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has questioned Maharashtra government’s refusal in sharing documents with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its probe against former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in an alleged corruption case saying how could the central agency decide on the relevance of documents without accessing the same.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar, on Tuesday, asked: “Unless they see the report, how will they know it is relevant to the probe or not?”
The HC was hearing an application by the CBI seeking that the Maharashtra government was not cooperating with their investigation against Deshmukh by refusing to provide documents. The CBI has prayed that the state government should be directed to provide them with documents for the probe against Deshmukh as directed by the HC.
The state government had earlier claimed that the documents sought by CBI did not have any relevance with the central agency's corruption probe against Deshmukh.
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for the CBI, argued that by refusing to hand over the documents, the government was acting in contempt of a July order passed by the HC. On July 22, the HC had held that the CBI can inquire into the allegations of corruption in transfer and postings of police personnel.
During the hearing, Justice Shinde remarked that earlier the government had said that it was not averse to the investigation by the CBI. “Now why is the state government averse? We don’t have any words. Why should the state government do this?” said justice Shinde.
Defending the state government’s stand, senior counsel Rafiq Dada said that the HC had not said that the government was bound to give the documents and had in fact said that the CBI should investigate only those aspects that have a nexus with Deshmukh and his associates.
Justice Jamadar said: “Unless the CBI sees the documents, how will they (CBI) decide if there is any nexus or not. We only said that the CBI does not have unfettered authority to probe into other transfers. But the documents they are seeking pertain to a report submitted by Rashmi Shukla (IPS officer) on the issue of corruption in police transfers.”
Justice Shinde said that the government could not object to providing documents to the CBI. “These documents we believe you (government) cannot object to. For the period he (Anil Deshmukh) was holding the portfolio (of home minister) needs to be looked into… those documents may be needed.”
The HC has asked Dada to take instructions from the government on what documents it was willing to share with the CBI.
The court said: “Both are agencies of the State and Centre. There are many occasions where information is shared. Tell us the list of documents you (state government) are willing to share. This will lead to a congenial and happy situation.”
The HC has kept the CBI’s application for hearing on August 24.
On July 22, the HC had held that the CBI can inquire into the allegations of corruption in transfer and postings of police personnel. The HC had also dismissed a petition filed by the Maharashtra government seeking deletion of certain portions of the CBI’s FIR against Deshmukh.
On April 5, the HC had asked the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry against the NCP leader. Based on this, the central agency, on April 21, registered an FIR against Deshmukh on charges of corruption and misuse of official position.
The central agency has stated in its application that the Maharashtra government refused to share the documents claiming they are approaching the Supreme Court challenging the HC order of July 22.
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