NEW DELHI: The CBI on Wednesday opposed in the Delhi High Court a plea by its official Abhishek Tiwari, seeking bail in connection with the alleged leak of the probe agency’s preliminary inquiry report in a corruption case against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, saying the allegations are serious and his release may become detrimental to a fair investigation.
The CBI, in its reply to Tiwari’s bail plea, said as an officer of the agency, his duty was to detect and bring to justice those who were involved in corrupt practices but he himself has been found accused of the corrupt practices.
“The offence is thus very serious and as the petitioner (Tiwari) has the clout and knowledge regarding practices of investigation, the release of the petitioner may become detrimental to a fair and proper investigation. The offence herein is a case of corruption and more so of the fence eating the crops,” it said.
Justice Yogesh Khanna listed the matter for further hearing on October 5.
The CBI had registered a case against its sub-inspector Tiwari, Nagpur-based advocate Anand Daga, who was working as a lawyer for Deshmukh, and others on various allegations, including illegal gratification.
Daga was arrested for allegedly trying to subvert the Bombay High Court-directed preliminary enquiry against Deshmukh. According to the plea, Tiwari was detained on August 30, arrested on September 1, and is in judicial custody since September 6.
He has challenged a special CBI court’s September 8 order which had rejected his bail application. The CBI, in its reply, said the present is a case of commission of the offence to prevent an investigation into another serious offence by illegal means.
“The present offence is committed by a police officer and a lawyer, both of whom are obliged to protect and preserve the sanctity of the legal system in India. For the same rationale to which the courts have treated custodial deaths to be the worst form of crime (as committed by those who are obliged to protect lives), the present offence must be treated as an extremely serious one for the reason of its commission and the persons who have committed it. In our criminal jurisprudence if a lawyer and the police are permitted to make ‘arrangements’ and are then let off lightly, the entire criminal jurisprudence will collapse,” it said.
The agency said that the investigation of the case is at a preliminary stage and huge electronic evidence has been recovered during various searches and the data has been extracted which may likely point to a larger conspiracy.
It said that release of Tiwari at this juncture would be highly counter-productive to the fair investigation and may derail the probe.
It added that the investigation is at an initial stage and there is a likelihood that if the accused is released on bail, he may tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses, and may abscond which would be detrimental to the investigation.
Tiwari, in his bail plea filed through advocates Meenesh Dubey and Abdhesh Chaudhary, claimed that “the petitioner is a victim of circumstances in as much as he has been made a scapegoat and victimised by his senior in the CBI in order to put undue pressure for reason best known to them whereas, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the petitioner is not involved in the alleged offence as put forth in the present criminal case”.
The official said he has a clean and spotless service record and it was because of his integrity and uprightness that he was recommended by his seniors to the ongoing investigation relating to the former home minister of Maharashtra along with other officers.
He alleged that he had not been allowed to perform his duty in a fearless manner for last more than one year and was always subjected to harassment and mental torture. The trial court had rejected the bail pleas of Tiwari and Daga, saying that the investigation was still inconclusive.
A report of the preliminary enquiry (PE) purportedly giving clean chit to Deshmukh was leaked earlier causing embarrassment to the agency. The CBI started a probe into the leakage in which it emerged that findings of the PE were influenced.
“Attempts by Anil Deshmukh’s team were in contempt of the Bombay High Court which had directed that all concerned should fully cooperate with the CBI while conducting the PE. In this case, it has appeared that Deshmukh’s team tried to subvert the PE,” the CBI had said.
The CBI had started a PE on the orders of the Bombay High Court which had issued the direction while hearing public interest litigation on allegations of corruption against Deshmukh.
In the FIR, the CBI had booked Deshmukh and others unidentified under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act for “attempt to obtain undue advantage for the improper and dishonest performance of public duty”.
Allegations against Deshmukh had surfaced after the removal of Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
He was removed after the alleged role of policeman Sachin Waze surfaced in the case of an explosive-laden SUV which was found parked outside the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani. Waze was arrested by the NIA.
The FIR alleged that Deshmukh “and others” exercised undue influence over the transfer and posting of officials.