Maharashtra former HM Anil Deshmukh
Maharashtra former HM Anil Deshmukh

The CBI on Tuesday approached a special court seeking that it direct a magistrate to record statements of four witnesses in the corruption case it has registered in April against former home minister Anil Deshmukh based on the letter of former city police chief Param Bir Singh.

The special CBI court permitted the plea of the agency and requested that the statements of the specific witnesses be recorded by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Esplanade and submitted to it in a sealed envelope on or before 5 July. It also directed the investigating officer to keep the witnesses present before the magistrate at the earliest.

The prosecution generally prefers to record statements of important witnesses under Sec 164 of the CrPC so that witnesses do not turn hostile during a trial and claim that they were coerced into making these. When statements are recorded by a magistrate, the court makes sure it is voluntary and that officers are not present near the witness.

The agency had made separate pleas for four witnesses - Mahesh Shetty, Uday Shetty, Jaya Poojary and Rama Shankar Yadav, whose statements it had already recorded. The pleas said that during the course of the probe, the investigating officer found that the four are important witnesses who can throw light on the role of the accused and that their statements are crucial in the case.

Special CBI judge AS Sayyad in his order passed the same day said that in his considered opinion, it is necessary to record the statements. “An FIR is filed in this court and pending for final report, the offences mentioned in the FIR are exclusively triable by this court. In the circumstances as above and in order to conduct fair trial, the order will meet the ends of justice,” the court said, before requesting the magistrate to record their statements.

The CBI had registered an FIR against Deshmukh consequent to a preliminary enquiry initiated upon the direction of the Bombay HC to do so. The direction for a preliminary enquiry was on petitions by an advocate Jayshri Patil and Singh himself for a CBI probe on Deshmukh.

Singh’s letter addressed to the Chief Minister, after he was shunted out as the police chief, had alleged corruption by Deshmukh by directing now dismissed Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze, an accused in the Antilia bomb scare - Mansukh Hiran murder case, to collect Rs 100 crores from bars and restaurants in the city.

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