An independent probe is warranted in the matter of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh's corruption allegations against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh since both occupied such high positions in the government, the Supreme Court today said. It refused to interfere with a Bombay High Court order directing a CBI investigation into the charges, observing that the two persons involved were working closely until they fall apart.
The comments from a Supreme Court bench of Justices S K Kaul and Hemant Gupta came on an appeal by the Maharashtra government and Mr Deshmukh to stay the High Court order.
"The allegations are extremely serious and the persona involved are the Commissioner and Home Minister. In this scenario, will it not be a CBI case?" the court asked.
"Anil Deshmukh did not resign initially (following the allegations being made public). He did so only after the High Court directed a probe. It means the Home Minister was clinging on to office," the top court said, highlighting that allegations were made by a person who was the minister's right-hand person.
"Let the independent agency look into it. It is hunky dory," the court said, observing that it was still a preliminary inquiry at this stage.
Appearing for him, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said anyone could make any allegation. "I am not saying there should be no preliminary probe. But get my version on record and decide. Do not bring an outside agency, there are problems. I am vilified without being given chance. Look at the damage it has caused."
Following the April 5 High Court order for a CBI probe, Mr Deshmukh, a veteran NCP leader from Vidarbha, had resigned from the state government.
When the court asked if an accused could choose the probing agency, Mr Deshmukh said he was neither an accused nor a suspect.
"It is a hearsay statement with no material (evidence). The man, Waze, tells another person and that person tells Bhujbal, and he in turn tells the police commissioner. The commissioner makes the statement after he is shifted out of the position," Mr Deshmukh argued.
In his March 25 plea, Mr Singh, the former Mumbai police chief, had sought a CBI probe against Mr Deshmukh who, it was alleged, had asked police officers, including suspended cop Sachin Waze, to extort Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants. Mr Deshmukh has denied any wrongdoing.
Mumbai lawyer Jayshree Patil, on whose writ petition the High Court ordered the probe, on Tuesday filed a caveat in the top court seeking to be heard before any order is passed in the matter.