Mumbai: Chandiwal panel gets civil court powers for probe against Deshmukh

The Maharashtra government has delegated powers of a civil court to Justice Chandiwal committee, set up to conduct a probe into the corruption allegations levelled by former Mumbai commissioner Param Bir Singh against ex-state home minister Anil Deshmukh.

The one-member committee comprising high court's retired judge Kailash Uttamchand Chandiwal was set up on March 30 to conduct a judicial inquiry into Singh's allegations made in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on March 20.

Singh wrote the letter after he was shunted from the post of the Mumbai police commissioner and appointed as the DG, state Home Guards.

In a notification issued on May 3, the state government delegated powers of a civil court to the probe committee.

Singh alleged that NCP leader Deshmukh had given a target to some police officers to collect Rs 100 crore per month from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.

After formation of the probe committee, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Devendra Fadnavis had criticised the government and claimed the panel cannot be called a judicial commission as it was not given powers under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1952.

He had termed setting up of the committee as an "eye wash" and wondered how a retired judge could investigate charges against an incumbent home minister without any powers.

Deshmukh, who has rejected the allegations against him, resigned as home minister on April 5 after the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the corruption allegations against him.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) subsequently registered an FIR against Deshmukh and conducted searches at his premises in Mumbai and Nagpur.

Deshmukh recently moved the high court seeking to quash the FIR registered against him.

He alleged that the FIR was registered with a "biased, dubious and ulterior motive at the behest of those having political or other vendetta" against him.

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