Why did Param Bir not act against Deshmukh, asks HC

Param Bir Singh  

The Bombay High Court said on Monday that one would have to get to the root of the corruption allegations made against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and wondered if those behind reinstating police inspector Sachin Vaze could claim impunity.

Mr. Vaze was reinstated last year after being on suspension for 17 years for the custodial death of 27-year-old Khwaja Yunus in 2002. He is currently lodged at Taloja Central Jail in connection with the recovery of explosives near Mukesh Ambani's residence and the Mansukh Hiran murder case.

A division bench of justices S.S. Shinde and N.J. Jamadar was hearing a plea filed by Mr. Deshmukh to quash the FIR registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after another division bench directed it to inquire into the corruption allegations against him. Former police commissioner Param Bir Singh had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray accusing Mr. Deshmukh of having directed Mr. Vaze to collect ₹100 crore from bars and restaurants in a month.

The bench, however, asked additional solicitor general Aman Lekhi, appearing for the CBI, what had prevented Mr. Singh from initiating an inquiry against Mr. Deshmukh as soon as he got to know of his alleged misconduct? “Was it not the duty of the then CP to have registered an FIR? Was it then not the duty of the top police officer to immediately register a case? We expect a practical investigation against all [parties involved]. Why was the highest officer not investigating when informed? He could himself have registered the FIR,” it said.

“If one were to get to the root of the allegations of corruption made against Mr. Deshmukh, one would prima facie see that Vaze had been collecting the extortion money that Mr. Deshmukh allegedly asked him to,” the court said.

It wanted to know who was behind reinstating Mr. Vaze in the city police force. “Can they claim impunity on the ground that they were unaware of his past and antecedents?”

“At the cost of repeating, we are saying that the investigation must be against all involved,” the court told Mr. Lekhi. “The normal way is that as long as things are going well, no one says anything. Once a transfer happens, all sorts of allegations are made.”

Mr. Lekhi argued that Mr. Deshmukh had given Vaze a money collection target. “It’s not a Minister’s job to give targets to police officers. This case is one of maladministration and misgovernance.”

The bench reserved judgment.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 3:45:01 PM |

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