CBI files FIR against Anil Deshmukh in corruption case, conducts searches across Maharashtra

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in an alleged corruption case. On Saturday, the central agency carried out searches at multiple locations in the state in connection with Deshmukh and a few of his close associates.

Deshmukh has been charged under Section 7 of the amended Prevention of Corruption Act which deals with illegal gratification obtained by a public servant, and Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“The FIR was registered on April 21 after CBI was satisfied there was enough evidence to proceed with a regular case against Deshmukh. The searches could not be launched immediately as the team had to first get an RT-PCR test done,” a CBI official said.

The FIR is a culmination of a preliminary enquiry (PE) the CBI had initiated on the directions of the Bombay High Court a fortnight ago. The court had passed directions on the basis of a petition filed by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, who alleged Deshmukh had demanded Rs 100 crore be collected as bribes from bars and restaurants in the city.

On March 20, Singh, in an eight-page letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleged that Deshmukh asked now suspended API Sachin Waze to collect Rs 100 crore every month, including Rs 40-50 crore, from 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai.

Waze is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his alleged role in the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare on February 25, and the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran.

Waze had earlier submitted a letter to the NIA court supporting the allegations made by Singh against Deshmukh, and also levelling charges against Transport Minister Anil Parab of the Shiv Sena. Waze has alleged that Deshmukh asked him to pay Rs 2 crore for his reinstatement with the Mumbai Police. The court, however, has not taken the letter on record.

The CBI initiated a probe against Deshmukh after the Bombay High Court directed the agency to carry out a preliminary enquiry into the allegations against Deshmukh. The court asked the CBI to complete the probe within 15 days, after which it said the CBI director was at liberty to take further course of action.

During its preliminary enquiry, the CBI questioned Deshmukh and his aides, including his personal assistant Kundan Shinde and personal secretary Sanjeev Palande.

The CBI also recorded statements of Singh, currently posted as the Director General of state Home Guards, Waze, who is in the custody of the NIA, DCP Raju Bhujbal, ACP Sanjay Patil, Advocate Jayshree Patil, a petitioner, and hotel owner Mahesh Shetty.

Waze, in his statement, claimed Shinde was present during one such conversation where demand for bribes was made by Deshmukh.

Deshmukh, who rejected the allegations levelled against him, resigned from the cabinet on April 5 after the HC order.