The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday night registered a “preliminary inquiry” into the corruption allegations levelled against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, reported PTI. A team of officials reached Mumbai on Tuesday evening to begin the inquiry.
The CBI’s move came after the Bombay High Court directed the central agency to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations levelled by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh within 15 days. “CBI has registered a PE in the respect of the Bombay High Court order dated April 5, 2021,” said CBI spokesperson RC Joshi.
Deshmukh resigned from the state Cabinet on Monday hours after the court’s order. In his resignation letter, the Nationalist Congress Party leader said it was not morally correct for him to continue as the home minister.
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra government and Deshmukh moved the Supreme Court to cancel the CBI inquiry. A special leave petition filed by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government challenged the Bombay High Court order. A separate petition was also filed by Deshmukh in the case. The central agency’s “preliminary inquiry” will negate Deshmukh’s approaching of the top court, according to NDTV.
The allegations against Deshmukh
On March 20, Singh had accused Deshmukh of extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in Mumbai. In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the former police chief wrote that suspended Crime Branch officer Sachin Vaze told him that the minister had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels.
Singh had also accused the home minister of frequently interfering with police investigations in various cases.
Vaze was sent to the custody of the National Investigation Agency on March 15 for his alleged role in placing an explosives-laden vehicle outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani last month. Two days later, Singh – who was handling the investigation – was transferred from his position to the low-key Home Guard department by the state government.
The allegations against Deshmukh have landed the Shiv Sena, the Congress, and the Nationalist Congress Party government in a huge controversy. BJP leaders claimed there was a possibility that such incidents of alleged extortion were taking place in other Maharashtra cities like Pune, Nagpur and Jalgaon.
Deshmukh had refuted Singh’s allegations, and claimed that the police officer was trying to cover up after mishandling the Ambani case.