MUMBAI: Senior IPS officer Param Bir Singh filed a petition in the Bombay High Court on Wednesday challenging an order issued by a one-member inquiry commission, set up by the Maharashtra government to probe into allegations of corruption against former state home minister Anil Deshmukh, directing the former Mumbai police commissioner to appear before it for deposition.
Singh in his petition also challenged the legality of the commission's inquiry on the ground that the scope entrusted to the commission has already been adjudicated by the high court and the Supreme Court.
In the petition, Singh demanded the HC to declare that the scope entrusted upon the inquiry commission stands adjudicated and therefore, nothing survives to be inquired into by the commission. He also sought for interim reliefs by way of staying the proceedings before the commission and the summons issued to him to appear before it on August 6.
The Maharashtra government on March 30 this year constituted a one-member high level inquiry commission headed by former Justice KU Chandiwal to probe into allegations of corruption and misconduct levelled against the then state former home minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh.
Singh in his petition stated that the commission had to inquire and submit its findings on whether any offence was made out against Deshmukh, as alleged by Singh in his letter to the Maharashtra chief minister on March 20, 2021.
He claimed that the high court, in its judgement dismissing a petition filed by Deshmukh seeking to quash the CBI FIR lodged against him, noted that a prima facie cognisable offence was made out against the NCP leader.
The petition further said even the order passed on April 5, 2021 by the HC, directing the CBI to carry out a preliminary enquiry against Deshmukh, noted that serious allegations were levelled against him.
"The April 5 order of the HC was challenged in the Supreme Court by the state government and Anil Deshmukh. The Supreme Court while refusing to intervene was pleased to observe that the nature of allegations, the personas involved and the seriousness of the allegations do require an independent agency to enquire into the matter and that it was a matter of public confidence," Singh said in the petition.
"It is thus clear the scope entrusted upon the Inquiry Commission has already been adjudicated upon by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. It has been clearly found that the allegations made in the letter of March 20, 2021 reveal the commission of a cognisable offence and are required to be inquired into by an independent investigating agency," it said.
The petitioner seeks to raise important legal issues on whether the Inquiry Commission can continue with the inquiry once the scope entrusted to it has already been adjudicated upon by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court, the petition said.
The petitioner cannot be compelled to depose before the commission and face cross-examination, it added. The petition stated that in May this year, the commission issued summons to Singh and when he failed to appear, a cost was imposed on him on June 22.
"On July 5, the petitioner paid the costs and also submitted a letter to the registrar of the Inquiry Commission informing that the commission's scope has been adjudicated upon and thus, nothing survives to be inquired into," the plea said.
The commission directed Singh to file an affidavit raising these contentions. Singh complied and the commission later sought replies from all other parties on this issue. "The Inquiry Commission by its order dated July 30, 2021 rejected the contention of the petitioner and directed for the inquiry to continue. The commission has fixed the next date of hearing on August 6 and directed the petitioner to appear before it for deposition and cross-examination," the plea said.
The petition has challenged the July 30 order passed by the commission terming it as "illegal and bad in law". Deshmukh had resigned from the post of state home minister in April this year after the HC directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the allegations of corruption levelled against him by Singh.
The NCP leader has denied any wrongdoing.