Top cop plays politics.

Top cop plays politics.

Maha Home Minister quits after CBI orders probe into graft charges by top cop

Deshmukh doesn’t want a probe, to approach SC; Walse-Patil new HM

Agency Report | Mumbai | 5 April, 2021 | 09:00 PM

Anil Deshmukh has tendered his resignation as the Maharashtra Home Minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, "Deshmukh informed NCP chief Sharad Pawar that it won't be appropriate to remain in the post as CBI will be probing the charges against him." The development came shortly after the Bombay High Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to start a preliminary inquiry within 15 days into allegations of corruption and misconduct levelled by former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh against him.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has resigned from his post, hours after the Bombay High Court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the corruption allegations levelled against him by former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh, a top Nationalist Congress Party leader said here on Monday.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has appointed senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, ex-Speaker and Labour Minister Dilip Walse-Patil as the new Home Minister.

The CM also tweaked his cabinet by handing over the Labour department to Minister Hasan Mushrif, and the State Excise portfolio to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

Among the seniormost leaders in the state, Walse-Patil, 65, has been a 6-time MLA from Ambegaon in Pune district, has been a minister with experience in handling diverse departments, and served as the Speaker of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from 2009-2014.

Earlier, the high court verdict triggered off a high-level political drama in the state culminating in Deshmukh’s resignation.

“Soon after the high court directives, Deshmukh met NCP President Sharad Pawar and offered to resign to ensure an impartial probe. After the nod, Deshmukh has gone to meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to submit his resignation,” NCP National Spokesperson and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik told mediapersons.

In his resignation letter to the CM, Deshmukh said: “In the wake of the HC ruling, I feel it would be improper for me to continue in the post on ethical grounds. Hence, I have decided to voluntarily keep away from the post. Kindly relieve me from this responsibility.”

The fast-paced development came shortly after a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G. S. Kulkarni directed the CBI to conduct a ‘preliminary probe’ within 15 days into Singh’s allegations against Deshmukh.

On March 30, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had appointed a high-level committee by a retired Bombay HC judge, Justice K. U. Chandiwal to probe the matter.

Meanwhile, Deshmukh rushed to New Delhi late this evening amid speculation that he would challenge the Bombay HC verdict in the Supreme Court.

Several BJP bigwigs including state party chief Chandrakant Patil, Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis (Council) and Pravin Darekar, Sudhir Mungantiwar and others welcomed Deshmukh’s move to resign from his post to ensure an impartial probe.

This is the second major setback for the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the past three months with a minister compelled to quit the cabinet.

On February 28, Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod had quit amid a huge row following the death of a Tik-Tok star Pooja Chavan (22) in Pune on February 7.

After the incident, the BJP threatened to withdraw its members from a joint panel of the Shakti Bill and disrupt the legislature proceedings during the Budget Session in March if Rathod continued in the ministry.

Following the high court ruling, a high-level NCP emergency meeting was convened by Pawar in which Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other senior leaders were present to discuss the ramifications even as the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party clamoured for Deshmukh’s scalp.

Several BJP bigwigs including State party chief Chandrakant Patil, Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis (Council) and Pravin Darekar, Sudhir Mungantiwar and others welcomed Deshmukh’s move to keep off the post to ensure an impartial probe.

Portending fresh troubles for the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the Bombay High Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary probe into allegations of corruption levelled against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni has asked the CBI to complete its ‘preliminary probe’ within 15 days on the issues raised by Singh in his ‘letter-bomb’ last month.

However, the court said that the CBI need not register a First Information Report (FIR) immediately as the Maharashtra government has already set up a ‘high-level committee to probe the matter.

“The Government Resolution by the state government for a high-level committee leads us to believe that there is no interference required,” said Chief Justice Datta.

Terming the matter as ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’, the bench observed that Deshmukh is the Home Minister who leads the state police force and hence there should be an independent probe.

The court has asked the CBI to make its preliminary investigations in accordance with the law within 15 days and after that, the agency may use its discretion to decide the future course.

Besides Singh’s PIL, the court heard three other pleas filed by Ghanshyam Upadhyay seeking a court-monitored SIT, another by Mohan Bhide wanting a retired HC or SC judge to probe and a third by Jayshri Patil for a CBI or any other independent agency probe.

Shortly after the High Court verdict, the Bharatiya Janata Party Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded Deshmukh’s resignation to ensure an independent probe and questioned the silence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other MVA leaders in the matter.

In his plea, Singh had sought a thorough probe by the CBI into his allegations that Deshmukh had asked arrested policeman Sachin Vaze ‘to collect’ Rs 100-crore per month and also challenged his own (Singh) transfer as Commandant-General, Home Guards.

The state had strongly objected to the plea on grounds that Singh made the allegations only because he was shunted out of his post as Mumbai police chief. (IANS)