Reserving its orders on a plea filed by former state home minister Anil Deshmukh, challenging the FIR lodged against him by the CBI, the Bombay high court on Monday said that the central agency must conduct a “practical probe against everyone involved in the alleged corruption case”. The bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Nizamoodin Jamadar also ordered the agency to submit all the investigation papers in the case.
Representing the CBI, additional solicitor general Aman Lekhi argued that there is no requirement to obtain a prior sanction under Section 17 A of the Prevention of Corruption Act to prosecute Deshmukh.
Notably, Deshmukh, through senior counsel Amit Desai, maintained that the central agency ought to obtain a mandatory sanction under the act. He further argued that the FIR filed by the CBI doesn’t disclose any material enough to prosecute him.
Countering the submissions, Lekhi argued that the CBI conducted the preliminary enquiry and then proceeded to file an FIR as the enquiry revealed the commission of a cognizable offence. “The HC had ordered an enquiry that disclosed a cognizable offence. They argue that if sanction is necessary, does it mean that the court’s order will be diluted?” Lekhi said.
“It will make the entire process futile. The HC did not direct the CBI to take the state’s sanction of the act,” Lekhi said.
He also clarified that it isn’t a “one person’s job”. So, the agency has invoked criminal conspiracy charge in the FIR.
At this, the judges said, “Be it any department, an individual cannot do anything of this sort. When you are transferred, then you have problems. Who inducted Sachin Waze?” the bench questioned.
Speaking to Lekhi, the bench said, “The thrust of the April 5 order is public confidence.”
At this, Lekhi argued that merely not mentioning the “unknown persons” in the FIR will not vitiate the FIR.
Lekhi further referred to the eight page letter written by Parambir Singh, former police commissioner, alleging Deshmukh of setting an extortion target of Rs 100 crore to dismissed cop Sachin Waze.
“The quality of exercise shows it is not in due discharge of duty,” Lekhi said, while reading the letter.
At this, the bench said, “Whatever you (Lekhi) have read, happened on what date? Was it not the duty of the then commissioner to have registered an FIR?”
However, Lekhi responded that the CBI has intervened in the matter only after the HC’s orders on April 5.
“Thus, we are reminding you at the cost of repetition that we expect practical investigation,” the bench said.
The judges closed the matter and directed the CBI to submit the papers pertaining to the probe.