The Bombay High Court has directed the CBI to conduct preliminary inquiry within 15 days into corruption allegations made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh against state's Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni said this was an "extraordinary" and "unprecedented" case that warranted an independent inquiry.
It directed the Central Bureau of Investigation's director to complete the preliminary inquiry within 15 days and then take a decision on further course of action. The bench was presiding over three public interest litigations, including one filed by Singh himself, another by city-based lawyer Jayshree Patil, and the third by teacher Mohan Bhide, seeking various reliefs. The bench disposed of all the three pleas.
The HC had last Wednesday reserved its verdict on the pleas following a day-long hearing.
"We agree that this is an unprecedented case before the court...Deshmukh is Home Minister who leads the police... There has to be an independent inquiry...But, the CBI need not register an FIR immediately," the court said on Monday.
On March 25, Singh filed a criminal public interest litigation seeking a CBI probe against Deshmukh. The former Mumbai Police chief had set off a major row last month when he alleged that Deshmukh had asked suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze, who has been arrested in the SUV case, to collect Rs 100 crore from Mumbai's restaurants, bars and hookah bars.
Singh, who was transferred to the low-key Home Guards on March 17 following the arrest of Vaze in the Antilia case, in a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had claimed that he was made a scapegoat. In the eight-page letter, Singh had alleged that Deshmukh used to call police officers to his official residence and give them a "collection target" from bars, restaurants and other establishments.
Allegations of Singh against Deshmukh and the Sachin Vaze episode pushed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government on the backfoot. Vaze was arrested by the NIA, which is probing the recovery of an explosives-laden vehicle from outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani last month and also the alleged murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, the purported owner of that SUV.