In a shocking development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Saturday that its preliminary enquiry (PE) has found that a prima facie 'cognisable offence' is made out against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and others pertaining to alleged corruption and misuse of power.
The CBI said that Deshmukh and some unknown others had attempted to take undue advantage for "improper and dishonest performance of their public duty".
The PE was ordered by the Bombay High Court earlier this month.
The PE also found that arrested-suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze, who was reinstated into the Mumbai Police after being out of service for more than 15 years, "was entrusted with most of the sensational and important cases of the city police" and Deshmukh was in the know of this.
In the FIR lodged by the CBI based on the PE, it has referred to the writ petition filed by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, which mentioned how "the then Home Minister (Deshmukh) and others exercised undue influence over the transfer and postings of officials and thereby exercising undue influence over the performance of official duties by the officials".
In view of this, CBI DSP R.S. Gunjiyal recommended that a case under the amended Prevention of Corruption Act, Section 7, and the Indian Penal Code, Section 120B, should be registered against Deshmukh and the other unknown accused.
CBI DSP Mukesh Kumar has been entrusted with the task of investigating the matter further, according to the FIR.
Pursuant to the FIR, the CBI sleuths on Saturday morning swooped on Deshmukh's Nagpur home and other premises in multiple cities across Maharashtra and again questioned him for over eight hours in connection with case.
The CBI officers sporting PPE suits went to Deshmukh's home and other locations in Mumbai, Thane and Pune, stunning the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) combine in Maharashtra.
NCP leader Deshmukh had been interrogated earlier by the CBI in Mumbai for eight hours on April 14.
The CBI action was part of the primary probe into the corruption allegations levelled against Deshmukh by Param Bir Singh last month, sparking a massive political upheaval.
Following the fast-paced developments, Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil was closeted in a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, details of which are awaited.
NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik, state minister Hasan Mushrif, and Congress spokesperson Raju Waghmare termed the action as "politically motivated" and "misuse of central agencies" to target and malign the state government's image.
Meanwhile, BJP state unit chief Chandrakant Patil and other leaders welcomed the CBI action and even demanded a probe against other MVA leaders such as Transport Minister Anil Parab and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.
The developments came after the Bombay High Court ordered the CBI to conduct a PE on April 5 into Singh's accusations of corruption and misuse of office against Deshmukh and submit its report within 15 days.
Shortly after the court-ordered CBI preliminary probe, Deshmukh quit his post and senior NCP leader Walse-Patil was appointed in his place.