The Maharashtra government today told the Bombay High Court that it did not want to be seen as defending NCP leader Anil Deshmukh, but the CBI was trying to interfere in the inquiry against IPS officer Rashmi Shukla by expanding the scope of its probe against the former state home minister.
The state has moved the high court alleging that some portions of the FIR registered by the central agency against Mr Deshmukh were unwarranted, and intended to "destabilise" the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP government.
The state did not want to interfere in the CBI's probe against Mr Deshmukh for alleged corruption, the Maharashtra government's lawyer and senior advocate Rafique Dada told a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamdar.
It merely wanted to get some portions from the FIR expunged, he said. "I do not want to be seen as supporting Mr Deshmukh. He is not my minister anymore," Mr Dada said, when the CBI's lawyer proposed that the court hear the pleas filed by the state and Mr Deshmukh together.
The CBI included the issues of reinstatement of (now dismissed) Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze and transfers and postings of some other officers in the past in its FIR which were not part of the original complaint, he said.
By including the issues of Mr Waze's reinstatement and Mr Deshmukh's alleged interference in transfers, the CBI was trying to "peep into" issues in which the state was already conducting inquiries, Mr Dada said.
The inclusion of these issues in the FIR was a pretext to interfere in the case of IPS officer Rashmi Shukla, he said.
Ms Shukla, a former state intelligence commissioner, is facing inquiry for alleged unauthorised phone tapping and the leak of a confidential report.
"They (CBI) are trying to interfere in the investigations that we have already ordered," Mr Dada said."Now, through a back-door method, through this FIR, the CBI is trying to rake these issues and resurrect these inquiries," he alleged.
On April 5, the high court, hearing a bunch of pleas including one filed by lawyer Jaishri Patil, directed the CBI to initiate a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption made against Mr Deshmukh by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
As the Maharashtra government had withdrawn its "general consent'' for CBI probes in the state in October 2020, in the present case the central agency's investigation should be based only on the high court order and Ms Patil's complaint, Mr Dada argued.
"The state is not against the CBI investigation. What we are aggrieved by (is) only certain portions of the FIR that have gone beyond the HC order," he said.
Even Param Bir Singh's letter to the Chief Minister against Mr Deshmukh, which was attached to Ms Patil's complaint, did not speak of transfers and postings issues, Mr Dada said.
Mr Singh subsequently filed a public interest litigation where he alleged that Mr Deshmukh interfered in police transfers and postings, and "CBI copied this portion on transfers from the PIL and made it a part of the FIR," Mr Dada claimed.
The Maharashtra government moved the high court "since this is a matter of federal rights of the state", he argued.
Mr Deshmukh too has filed a separate plea through senior advocate Amit Desai, challenging the entire FIR registered against him.
While the CBI's counsel Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh suggested that the high court hear the Maharashtra government and Mr Deshmukh together and the CBI thereafter, the state objected.
Mr Deshmukh was no longer a minister and it didn't want to be seen as defending him, Mr Dada said.
The high court will hear the CBI's arguments on June 21. The agency told the court that it was ready to abide by its earlier undertaking not to take any coercive action against Mr Deshmukh till June 22.
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