In what can spell some serious troubles for Maharashtra home minister and senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh, the Bombay High Court on Monday ordered the CBI chief to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the corruption allegations levelled against him by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni while terming the case to be "extraordinary and unprecedented" asked the CBI director to complete its enquiry within 15 days.
The judges clarified that the CBI must not register any FIR immediately since the Maharashtra government has already set up a "high-level committee" to deal with the matter.
"The GR issued by the state government for a high-level committee leads us to believe that there is no interference required," Chief Justice Datta said while pronouncing the verdict.
"However, we do agree that this is an unprecedented case before the court. Deshmukh is the home minister who leads the state police force. Thus, there has to be an independent enquiry," the CJ added.
The bench accordingly ordered the CBI director to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the matter but not to register an FIR immediately on the basis of the FIR filed by Pune-based Jaishri Patil, an advocate.
"We believe the interest of justice will be done if the director of CBI is allowed to conduct a preliminary inquiry and it should be ordered in accordance with law and be concluded within 15 days," the CJ said.
"Once the report is submitted, the director of CBI may decide the future course as per his discretion," the bench added.
A detailed copy of the order is yet to be made available.
The bench was seized with a plea filed by Param Bir Singh seeking a thorough probe into his allegations by an independent agency like the CBI. The former top cop had alleged that the home minister had instructed arrested cop Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore per month from various bars and restaurants.
The state had objected to his plea stating that he has brought in these allegations only because he was removed from the top cop's post and transferred to another department.