The Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to grant interim protection to former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in connection with a corruption case lodged against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation, Live Law reported.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to file an affidavit within four weeks in response to a petition filed by Deshmukh seeking to quash the FIR against him, according to PTI.
The case relates to the corruption allegations against Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. The CBI had filed the FIR against him on April 24 under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act that deals with illegal gratification obtained by a public servant. He was also charged with criminal conspiracy under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code.
During the hearing, senior counsel Amit Desai, appearing for Deshmukh, sought an interim order granting protection from arrest to the former minister. “The CBI can file its affidavit to the petition, but till then the petitioner should be protected,” Desai said.
CBI’s counsel, Anil Singh, however, opposed this. He told the court that the agency was given a copy of the petition only on Wednesday and hence, it required time to file its affidavit.
The court agreed with the central agency’s argument, and said the CBI should be given an opportunity to respond to Deshmukh’s plea. “We cannot pass any orders without hearing the parties concerned,” it said.”
In the meantime, the court said that Deshmukh was free to approach the vacation bench in case he wanted interim relief with “extreme urgency”. The bench said if Deshmukh moved the vacation bench, then he shall give 48-hour notice to the CBI.
Deshmukh had moved the Bombay High Court on May 3. In his plea, the politician said the FIR was filed with a “biased, dubious and ulterior motive at the behest of those having political or other vendetta” against him.
Allegations against Deshmukh
In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had written that suspended Crime Branch officer Sachin Vaze told him that Anil Deshmukh had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels.
Singh had also accused the former state home minister of frequently interfering with police investigations in various cases. The former Mumbai police chief wrote the letter to Thackeray after he was transferred from his position to the low-key Home Guard department by the state government.
On April 7, Vaze corroborated Singh’s allegations against Deshmukh. In a letter he intended to submit to the special National Investigation Agency court, Vaze alleged that Deshmukh and Transport Minister Anil Parab demanded more than Rs 100 crore from him. Vaze is facing proceedings in connection with the explosives found near the home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, and the subsequent death of businessman Mansukh Hiren.
Though Deshmukh has constantly denied any impropriety, he resigned from the state Cabinet on April 5 after the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into allegations against him.
On April 8, the Supreme Court had dismissed the Maharashtra government and Deshmukh’s petitions to cancel the CBI inquiry against him. The top court had said that the allegations against Deshmukh were a matter of public confidence.