Supreme Court dismisses Maharashtra ex-minister plea against CBI FIR

The Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed former Maharashtra Home minister Anil Deshmukh’s plea challenging the FIR registered by CBI against him in connection with the allegations of corruption levelled by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah junked Deshmukh’s appeal against the July 22 order of the Bombay High Court, which had also turned down his prayer to quash the FIR, saying that no case for interference was made out.

The apex court bench also rejected a plea by the Maharashtra government against the HC order allowing the CBI probe.

Appearing for Deshmukh in his petition challenging the Bombay HC order, senior advocate Amit Desai contended that the CBI could not take up investigation without prior consent of the state. He argued that the HC had only ordered a preliminary enquiry, and subsequently it had to seek State sanction under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act before registering FIR.

Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for CBI, opposed this and said the inquiry was based on High Court’s order and the power of the constitutional court to order inquiry cannot be excluded or curtailed.

The bench did not agree with Desai’s contentions and said that insisting on sanction under the provision for FIR can defeat the ends of justice in a situation where a court is forced to order a CBI probe owing to lack of confidence in state police. “Why investigation is ordered in the first place? Because the state can’t be trusted. If you say you still have to abide by 17A, that will defeat the ends of justice. State government will never grant sanction. If state had to give sanction, it would have investigated the case in the first place,” Justice Chandrachud said.

Rejecting the Maharashtra government’s contention, Justice Chandrachud asked senior advocate Rahul Chitnis, who appeared for the state, “Normally when FIR is filed, police has jurisdiction u/s 167 CrPC for all the facts related. Police are bound to take into consideration all facts. How can we draw a line that CBI will only investigate abuse of law with regards to particular facts?”

Justice Shah added that the “manner in which the postings were made are the subject matter for investigation”.

The court also rejected the argument that the CBI would need its consent. It said, “If you talk about consent, it will defeat the direction passed by the constitutional court.”

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