The CBI has summoned former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh for questioning in connection with corruption allegations levelled by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh. He has been asked to appear before CBI on 14 March.
In a letter, Param Bir Singh had alleged that Deshmukh had allegedly ordered suspended cop Sachin Vaze to extort over Rs 100 crore a month from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had arrested Vaze in connection with the case of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house Antilia.
The agency started its preliminary enquiry into the allegations of bribery against Deshmukh on the orders of the high court. It sent a team of officers from Delhi to Mumbai to carry out the probe.
The CBI has so far recorded statements of Param Bir Singh, currently posted as the director-general of state Home Guards, Sachin Vaze, DCP Raju Bhujbal, ACP Sanjay Patil, advocate Jayshree Patil, a petitioner, and hotel owner Mahesh Shetty.
Singh was moved from the post of Mumbai police commissioner to the Home Guards department on 17 March. Later, he filed a petition in the high court seeking a CBI probe against Deshmukh, alleging the NCP leader had asked Vaze and other police officers to extort Rs 100 crore from restaurants and bars in Mumbai.
Deshmukh, who has denied the allegations, resigned from the cabinet on 5 April after the high court order.
CBI questions Deshmukh’s aides
The CBI had yesterday questioned two personal assistants of the former Maharashtra home minister for over four hours in connection with the allegation of extortion. The CBI is likely to record Deshmukh’s statement this week.
The CBI questioned the two staffers — Sanjeev Palande and Kundan Shinde — on the basis of statements given by Singh and arrested API Sachin Vaze, who have claimed that the duo was privy to Deshmukh’s demands, said sources. The duo was questioned at the DRDO guest house in Santacruz, officials of the agency said.
Singh had alleged in a letter that Palande was present when Deshmukh allegedly asked Vaze to extort over Rs 100 crore a month from bars and restaurants in Mumbai. Similarly, Vaze had purportedly claimed that Kundan was present during the demands made by Deshmukh. The CBI has filed a preliminary inquiry into the matter on Bombay High Court’s order and has to submit a report by early next week. The agency will inform the high court whether or not a regular case is made out and if an in-depth investigation is required.
On Friday, the agency had questioned former constable Vinayak Shinde and bar owner Mahesh Shetty in the case. Shinde was arrested by the NIA in the Mansukh Hiren murder case. The CBI also recorded the statement of DCP Raju Bhujbal and questioned Singh and Vaze again on Friday. The CBI has also sought the diary and documents that were seized from Vaze.
The CBI also recorded the statements of two drivers working for Vaze. Singh first wrote a letter to the CM stating that Deshmukh had called Vaze and ACP Sanjay Patil along with DCP Raju Bhujbal separately at his official residence and made his demand.
In his letter, Singh alleged that when Deshmukh had called Vaze at his residence, one or two staff members of the minister, including Palande, were present. In a letter that Vaze wanted to submit to the special court during his remand, it was alleged that Kundan Shinde was present when Deshmukh made his extortion demand. The letter said Shinde suggested that Vaze carried out Deshmukh’s order to keep his job.