Former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh approaches the Supreme Court for an "impartial and fair investigation" by the Central Bureau of Investigation into "various corrupt malpractices" of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. He has also challenged his transfer to Home Guards, ordered by the Maharashtra government last week over lapses in the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case. Singh was the one to level corruption allegations against the home minister last week in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. In his letter, he claimed Deshmukh had started an extortion racket with several officers, including Sachin Waze, who has been arrested in the Mukesh Ambani explosives case. The officers were set a target of Rs 100 crore a month and told to collect the money from pubs and restaurants. He also accused the minister of interfering in investigations, ordering officers to act on basis of his political agenda ignoring the chain of command. Singh's appeal to the Supreme Court comes after Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar questioned his motives. The officer, Pawar said, made his allegations after being moved out of the Mumbai top post and into the Home Guards following lapses in the Mukesh Ambani security scare probe.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh has unleashed a barrage of allegations against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in a petition in the Supreme Court, accusing him of adopting corrupt practices in posting or transfer of police officers to implicating BJP leaders in MP Mohan Delkar’s suicide.
The petition said on February 22, Member of Parliament Mohan Delkar was found dead in his Mumbai hotel room, leaving behind a 15-page suicide note. Singh said that after initial inquiries and report, he initiated an investigation into the matter and sought advice from the Police Department’s Legal Cell.
“The petitioner was time and again pressurised by the Minister for Home, Government of Maharashtra to probe the role of certain leaders of BJP and somehow implicate them. It is submitted that there was tremendous pressure to give the entire episode a political angle. The petitioner however did not succumb to the pressure,” he said in the petition.
He further accused Deshmukh of adopting corrupt practices in posting or transfers in police in addition to extortion of Rs 100 crore per month from various establishments.
Singh claimed that last August, Rashmi Shukla, Commissioner Intelligence, State Intelligence Department, through telephonic interceptions, brought out information about corrupt malpractices in postings or transfers adopted by Deshmukh. She brought it to the notice of the Director General of Police, who in turn brought it to the knowledge of the Additional Chief Secretary, Home. However, Shukla was shunted out, instead of any firm action against Deshmukh being taken.
Singh said around mid-March, he had pointed out to the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and other senior leaders about the several misdeeds and malpractices carried out by the Home Minister. He said that he wrote a letter on March 20 to the Chief Minister.
“The petitioner thus apprised the Chief Minister of the true picture for consideration and corrective action, being fully cognizant to the retaliation that is likely against the petitioner for placing the true picture on record,” said the petition. Later, he was transferred from the post of the Police Commissioner of Mumbai to the Home Guards Department in an arbitrary and illegal manner without the completion of the minimum fixed tenure of two years.
He added that his transfer was a political move with oblique purposes and sinister motives. “It is submitted that the petitioner was leading various important investigations and was at the cusp of unearthing startling discoveries,” he claimed in the petition.
Singh urged the Supreme Court to direct a fair CBI investigation into the acts of Deshmukh in abuse of his official position.
“The Government of Maharashtra has withdrawn the consent for investigations of offences by the CBI in the State of Maharashtra. Therefore, unless directions are issued by this court, there seems no possibility of an unbiased, uninfluenced, impartial and fair investigation by the CBI in the corrupt malpractices of Anil Deshmukh, the Home Minister of Government of Maharashtra, before the evidence is destroyed,” his plea added.
Meanwhile, the state Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party called upon Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to probe and submit a report on the current happenings in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) to President R. N. Kovind.
Making another attempt to push the MVA on the precipice, senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said that a delegation would meet the Governor on Wednesday to discuss the prevailing political crisis in the state.
“We are not demanding President’s Rule here. We will request the Governor that based on truth, principles and provisions in the Indian Constitution, he should send a report to the President on the current state scenario,” Mungantiwar said.
He also termed as “extremely serious” the allegations made by former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh against Home Minister Anil Deshmukh accusing him of demanding Rs 100-crore collection per month from arrested-suspended cop Sachin Vaze,
However, other senior BJP leaders like Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Rane have demanded President’s Rule in the state and shot off a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah in this regard.
Earlier this month, Mungantiwar had predicted during the Budget Session of the Legislature that the MVA government would collapse within three months.
Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis (Assembly) and Pravin Darekar (Council) have sought a full-fledged investigation, the resignation or sacking of Deshmukh and other demands in the past couple of days since Singh’s ‘letter-bomb’ dropped on the MVA, triggering a massive political furore which echoed in Parliament this morning.
A delegation led by Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and demanded the imposition of President’ Rule in the state.
“Owing to the current situation emerging from the serious allegations against a minister, the state must be brought under President’s Rule. However, the Legislative Assembly should be kept under suspended animation,” Ambedkar said.
He said that may be over the next four-five months, the state could have a viable government that would work for the people’s interests, said Ambedkar, who is the grandson of the architect of Indian Constitution, B.R. Ambedkar.
The VBA chief also sought a detailed investigation into the charges levelled by Param Bir Singh against Anil Deshmukh to ascertain whether “collecting money” was the decision of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi allies, the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress.
“If the Governor fails to take suitable action, a perception would be created whether the opposition BJP is also involved in the case,” Ambedkar claimed.
Besides the VBA, the BJP, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray and the Aam Aadmi Party unit of the state have also demanded the sacking of Deshmukh and a probe into the letter, which has blown into the biggest crisis faced by the MVA in its 15-month-old existence.
Param Bir Singh moved the Supreme Court stating that Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has been interfering in various investigations and sought the CBI to immediately conduct an unbiased, uninfluenced, impartial and fair investigation in the various corrupt malpractices carried out by Deshmukh.
Singh urged the top court to quash his transfer orders, which he has termed “illegal and arbitrary” and a CBI probe to be carried out immediately before evidence are destroyed.
Singh’s plea contended that since February 2021, Deshmukh had been holding meetings at his residence with police officers — including Sachin Vaze of Crime Intelligence Unit, Mumbai and Sanjay Patil, ACP Social Service Branch, Mumbai — bypassing their seniors. The plea claimed that Deshmukh had instructed them that he had a target to accumulate Rs. 100 crores every month and directed them to collect money from various establishments and other sources. The plea has made the Maharashtra government, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the CBI as respondents in the matter.
Singh also sought directions to respondents to immediately take in its custody the CCTV footage from Deshmukh’s residence.
“Anil Deshmukh had been interfering in various investigations and was instructing the police officers to conduct the same in a particular manner as desired by him……….Fair CBI investigation is thus warranted in each of such acts of Anil Deshmukh in abuse of the official position of the Home Minister,” said the petition.
Singh said he had brought Deshmukh’s corrupt practices in the knowledge of the senior leaders and the Maharashtra Chief Minister. Singh claimed after making such a startling revelation, he apprehends malicious and coercive actions against him at the instance of a disgruntled home minister.
“Immediately thereafter, on March 17, 2021, an order vide notification of the Home Department of the Respondent No. 1 (Maharashtra government)…….was issued, by virtue of which, the petitioner herein was transferred from the post of the Police Commissioner of Mumbai to the Home Guard Department in an arbitrary and illegal manner without the completion of the minimum fixed tenure of two years”, said the plea, terming the transfer malicious.
Justifying Singh’s transfer, the Maharashtra government had said it was done to ensure a free and fair investigation in the Antilia incident leading to an FIR registered on February 25, with Gamdevi Police Station as a result of a car with explosives being found at Altamount Road near Antilia, the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, for a bomb scare.
Both the NIA and the ATS are investigating the matter. Sachin Vaze, an officer of Crime Intelligence Unit, Mumbai, has been arrested for custodial interrogation by NIA.
“All necessary assistance had been rendered by the petitioner’s office and his officers for the conduct of a free and fair investigation by the ATS and the NIA into the Antilia incident. It is not a even case of the NIA that the petitioner had in any manner obstructed in a free and fair investigation by NIA,” said Singh’s plea. (IANS)