INDIA. Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday conducted searches at 10 places including the premises of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in Mumbai and his hometown Nagpur after registering a case against him in connection with allegations of corruption.
Searches were conducted at the “Dnyaneshwari” bungalow in the Malabar Hill area in South Mumbai, allotted to Deshmukh when he was a minister. The searches were also carried out at his flat in Sukhada Apartment on Sir Pochkhanwala Road in Worli in South Central Mumbai. Besides the searches were conducted at Deshmukh’s house located at GPO Square in the Civil Lines area in Nagpur.
A ten-member CBI team including two women officers wearing PPE kits reached the residence of Deshmukh in south Mumbai early Saturday morning, conducted the searches, and seized some documents. Another CBI team from Delhi reached Nagpur on Friday night and launched searches at Deshmukh’s residence early on Saturday morning. The CBI team members wearing PPE kits carried out the searches for nearly 11 hours.
No sooner the CBI team reached Deshmukh’s Nagpur residence, the activists of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Youth wing led by Jitendra Tiwari and Nutan Revatkar reached the venue and protested the CBI action alleging that the attempt was being made to harass the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi leaders by the Central Government using the agencies like CBI, NIA, and Enforcement Directorate. The activists were later rounded up by the Sitabardi police. The officers of state CID also reached Deshmukh’s residence since they had no prior information about the CBI searches.
Speaking on anonymity, the CBI officials maintained that the agency has enough material to start a formal probe by registering a regular case against Deshmukh and other unidentified persons under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
A unit of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation that had gone to Deshmukh’s residence at about 12.30 pm to conduct an antigen test of Deshmukh’s family members and his staff was reportedly sent back by the CBI team.
After the searches were over Deshmukh told the media that he cooperated with the inquiry and there was nothing unusual. Later he left to oversee the ongoing work of new corona isolation centers being set up at Katol and Narkhed in Nagpur.
However, NCP ministers Jayant Patil and Hasan Mushrif, andShiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that CBI was exceeding its brief. The CBI is supposed to conduct a preliminary inquiry as per the Bombay high court’s direction in response to criminal public interest litigation filed by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh seeking a CBI probe against Deshmukh, who, he claimed, had asked police officers, including suspended cop Sachin Waze, to extort Rs.100 crore from bars and restaurants.
Deshmukh, an NCP leader, had resigned as a minister on April 05, 2021, after the high court asked the CBI to probe the allegations against him. He had appealed against the Bombay high court’s order in the Supreme Court. However, SC rejected his plea.
In the meanwhile Advocate, Jayashree Patil who had filed a caveat in the Supreme Court against Deshmukh’s appeal in the SC said that the CBI was proceeding as per the Bombay High Court’s directions and those who are objecting to CBI searches, should read the Bombay high court judgment in its entirety. As per paragraphs 41, 82, and 83 of the high court’s order, the CBI has full rights to register the FIR. She also claimed that she has been receiving threats after she filed the caveat in the SC.
Patil is a petitioner in the high court and it is on her petition that the high court ordered the CBI on April 05, 2021, to conduct a preliminary inquiry within 15 days into the allegations of corruption against Deshmukh and to register an FIR if any cognizable offense is found.
In her plea, she has alleged that Deshmukh and Singh acted in breach of their professional duties during the entire episode of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai, the death of the vehicle’s owner Mansukh Hiran, the arrest of Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze and related events.