A court in Delhi on Wednesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation into the role of former Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh in the case related to the leaking of the agency’s preliminary inquiry report, reported PTI.

A purported preliminary inquiry report that was leaked did not mention any cognisable offence against Deshmukh. But the Central Bureau of Investigation found that the politician’s lawyer had allegedly bribed the agency’s official to manipulate this report “in an attempt to subvert the case”.

The purported report was signed by the investigating officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police RS Gunjiyal.

At Wednesday’s hearing, special judge Sanjeev Aggarwal said that although Deshmukh was not arraigned as an accused in the agency’s chargesheet, he could have planned the larger conspiracy since he would benefit from the contents of the preliminary inquiry report being leaked.

The court made the observations while taking note of the Central Bureau of Investigation’s chargesheet against the agency’s sub-inspector Abhishek Tiwari, Deshmukh’s lawyer Anand Daga.

The chargesheet also mentioned Vaibhav Gajendra Tumane, who handled the former minister’s social media, for allegedly trying to subvert the preliminary inquiry ordered by the Bombay High Court, reported PTI.

Tiwari and Daga had been arrested in September as part of an investigation into the allegations that Deshmukh had coerced police officers to collect bribe on his behalf. The arrests were made after the investigating agency found that the lawyer had bribed the Central Bureau of Investigation’s sub-inspector.

The judge on Wednesday said that the common aim of the conspiracy seemed to be to get access to the preliminary inquiry report and for the inquiry to be done in an illegal and clandestine way.

“The CBI seems to have left the engine/horse pulling the cart, thereby only arraigning those travelling in cart, as without pull of engine or horse the ride of cart or conspiracy would not have been possible...” the court said, according to The Indian Express. “Despite mountain of apparent evidence, CBI seems to have forsaken the man pulling the strings or the controlling mind or mastermind or head while only chargesheeting the hands, for reasons best known.”

The agency was directed to file a status report without fail within four weeks. The court also ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to “discreetly and thoroughly further investigate the role of Deshmukh in present matter with utmost alacrity, in a time bound manner”, reported The Indian Express.

CBI files chargesheet against its sub-inspector, Deskhmukh’s lawyer

Meanwhile, the agency filed a chargesheet against Deshmukh’s lawyer and its own sub-inspector, noting that a confidential statement of Central Bureau of Investigation chief Subodh Kumar Jaiswal had been recovered from the devices of the two accused persons, reported PTI.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said that Jaiswal’s statement, which had been recorded during his previous term, was in connection with the bribery allegations against Deshmukh.

A forensic examination of devices recovered from Deshmukh’s lawyer and the Central Bureau of Investigation’s sub-inspector revealed that the phone conversation of Jaiswal, who was then the Central Industrial Security Force director general, had been recorded by Tiwari and the agency’s Deputy Superintendent of Police Mukesh Kumar on May 6.

Jaiswal took charge as the Central Bureau of Investigation chief on May 26. He was questioned under Section 161 (examination of witnesses by police) of the Code of Criminal Procedure about the case during his service as the Maharashtra director general of police, according to PTI.

The forensic analysis showed that Jaiswal’s recorded statement was saved on Tiwari’s pen drive on August 1 and four days later on the phone of Deshmukh’s lawyer.

The agency also found files related to the leaked preliminary inquiry report and the first information report against Deshmukh on the phone of the politician’s lawyer, reported PTI, citing the agency’s official.

Allegations against Deshmukh

In March, former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh had accused Deshmukh of extorting money from the owners of bars and restaurants in the city.

Singh had alleged that suspended assistant police inspector of Mumbai Police Sachin Vaze told him that Deshmukh had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels.

The central agency has alleged that Vaze had collected Rs 4.7 crore from the bar owners from December 2020 to February’s on Deshmukh’s instructions.

On August 23, the Enforcement Directorate had filed a chargesheet against Deshmukh’s aides Sanjeev Palande and Kundan Shinde in an alleged money laundering case.

Palande is Deshmukh’s private secretary, while Shinde is his private assistant. The agency had arrested the two men on June 26 in connection with the case.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Vaze had handed over the money to Shinde and Palande.

Deshmukh has repeatedly denied the accusations, but resigned from the state Cabinet on April 5 after the Bombay High Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a preliminary inquiry against him.

He is currently in judicial custody for the money laundering case against him.