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Deshmukh quits, may move SC to challenge CBI probe

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday resigned from his post, hours after the Bombay High Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the corruption allegations against Deshmukh levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. Soon after, it emerged that the Maharashtra government and Deshmukh would request the Supreme Court to cancel the CBI probe. A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni heard a clutch of petitions seeking an independent probe into Singh›s allegations against Deshmukh, including Singh›s plea seeking a CBI probe into the corruption allegations against Deshmukh. The plea also alleged corruption in police transfers and postings. The Bombay High Court also asked the CBI director to conclude the inquiry within 15 days and take further action in accordance with law. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office said that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Dilip Walse Patil will replace Deshmukh. It added that Thackeray has forwarded Deshmukh’s resignation to state Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and also informed him about Patil taking over. Patil, a former Speaker and seven-time MLA, is one of the seniormost lawmakers in Maharashtra and had started his career as personal assistant to Sharad Pawar. Anil Deshmukh has so far denied any impropriety, and had for weeks resisted calls for his resignation, saying he had done nothing wrong. His party boss Sharad Pawar had given him a clean chit and after several meetings, Uddhav Thackeray›s Shiv Sena had also fallen in line despite visible strain in the alliance. “I don›t have the moral right to continue in office after the court order. I have decided to quit. Kindly relieve me from my post,” said the resignation letter of Deshmukh, who belongs to Pawar›s NCP, a member of the Shiv Sena-led coalition ruling Maharashtra. Deshmukh went to hand over the letter to Uddhav Thackeray after Pawar gave his green signal, NCP leader and minister Nawab Malik said. Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Guardian, Param Bir Singh’s counsel Advocate Sunny Punamiya expressed vindication and said, “The Hon’ble HC has directed preliminary inquiry by CBI in the petition filed by Advocate Patil for fair and transparent and impartial inquiry. Therefore, prayers and grievances in Parambir Singh’s petition stand vindicated in a sense because of similar if not the same allegations as Advocate Patil.” The order for CBI inquiry was specifically passed on the writ petition of Advocate Dr Jaishri Patil. The Bench

said, “We agree with Dr Patil that there can be no independent probe if it is given to police where Deshmukh is the Home Minister; thus, unbiased probe was required to unearth the truth.” Warranting the need for an independent inquiry, the Bombay High Court also observed this as an “unprecedented”, extraordinary case. Meanwhile, reacting to the verdict, Advocate Dr Jayshri Patil said, “We welcome the decision and I am ready to record my statement in front of CBI; this is cheating with the common man and if the CBI investigates properly, more names will come out.” 

The Bombay High Court while pronouncing the order said: “We do not want to get involved in the other aspects of maintainability…The GR passed by the government for high level committee leads us to believe that there is no interference required…hence the CBI need not register an FIR immediately. Interest of justice will be done if the director of CBI is allowed to conduct a preliminary inquiry. Once the preliminary inquiry is complete, director CBI be at discretion to take further course of action.” Other pertinent observations made were, “Prima facie, the issue is such that the very faith of citizens on the functioning of the police department is at stake. To instill public confidence and safeguard the Fundamental Rights of the citizens, it is necessary that an inquiry and investigation is conducted by an independent agency.”

 

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