In a big setback to the Maharashtra government, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed its plea seeking court-monitored investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the case against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh passed this order.
The Maharashtra government had alleged the CBI investigation would not be fair since CBI Director S.K. Jaiswal had been the Maharashtra DGP. Therefore, the investigation under his leadership cannot remain impartial. Earlier, the Bombay High Court had rejected a similar petition. The Maharashtra government moved the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the High Court.
In December last year, the Bombay High Court had dismissed the state government petition seeking to cancel the summons issued in connection with the CBI investigation against Deshmukh and the formation of an independent SIT.
The state government had also requested the High Court to cancel the CBI summons issued to former Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte and current DGP Sanjay Pandey. The investigating agency had summoned Deshmukh to report in Delhi to answer questions related to him.
The CBI is probing allegations of misconduct and corruption against Deshmukh.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh had leveled these allegations against Deshmukh earlier this year. A bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice S.V. Kotwal while dismissing the plea of the Maharashtra government, said the state has failed to make a case for requisite relief. The High Court observed that in view of its overall circumstances including the conduct of the petitioner (Government of Maharashtra), the State has failed to make any case for relief. No case is made out for withdrawing CBI investigation and setting up of SIT.
The state government had approached the Bombay High Court through senior advocate Darius Khambata, contending that the CBI summons issued to Kunte and Pandey were malicious.
Kunte is currently the Principal Adviser to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.
Khambata had said the CBI has summoned DGP Pandey and he has nothing to do with the Deshmukh case and the agency had summoned him to harass him. He had also argued that CBI Director Subodh Jaiswal was the DGP of Maharashtra during Deshmukh’s tenure as Home Minister. Khambata had also claimed that when the CBI found Jaiswal in a “difficult situation”, the agency blamed Deshmukh for it. He had urged the High Court to transfer the probe to the SIT and appoint a retired judge to oversee the investigation.
CBI’s counsel then Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi had opposed Khambata’s arguments and said there was no malpractice in the agency’s investigation. He said that Anil Deshmukh was being investigated not because of Jaiswal, but after the Bombay High Court’s order of April 5. Deshmukh resigned from the post of Home Minister in April 2021.
Deshmukh was arrested on November 2 last year in a money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate. Deshmukh is currently in judicial custody. On December 29 last year, a 7000-page supplementary charge sheet was filed by the ED against Deshmukh and his son on charges of extortion and corruption. Apart from this, chargesheet has already been filed against 14 people including Deshmukh’s personal secretary Sanjeev Palade and personal assistant Kundan Shinde.
The case pertains to allegations of money laundering and extortion. Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh, in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, had alleged that Anil Deshmukh had demanded Rs 100 crore per month from Sachin Vaze when he was the Home Minister.
In this case, the CBI had registered an FIR against Anil Deshmukh. ED has taken action on the basis of CBI FIR. It is alleged that when Deshmukh was the Home Minister of Maharashtra, he had extorted Rs 4.7 crore from bar and restaurant owners. This amount was recovered during December 2020 to February 2021 and this amount was recovered through Assistant Inspector Sachin Vaze of Mumbai Police.
According to the ED, of this amount, Rs 4.18 crore was deposited in 4 different shell companies in Delhi. These companies donated this amount to a trust named Sri Sai Shikshan Sansthan. This trust is run by Deshmukh and his family. That is, the money recovered was used only in Deshmukh’s trust through shell companies.