Perhaps in a bid to save his political masters, new Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale’s report to the Maharashtra government says suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze was posted in the crime intelligence unit in June last year on the insistence of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh despite opposition from a top crime branch officer. It adds that Vaze reported directly to the former police chief.
According to the current Mumbai Police chief’s report, Vaze bypassed protocol and hierarchy to directly report to his predecessor who practically took all critical decisions relating to arrests, raids, remand applications and the police stand on anticipatory bail in cases handled by the team of Sachin Vaze.
“Vaze used to accompany Param Bir Singh during the briefing to the minister, home, on critical cases including TRP scam, Antilia explosive scare, Dilip Chhabria’s arrest. Vaze never obeyed the hierarchy of ranks to report over the cases under investigation,” the report read.
Param Bir Singh did not respond to phone calls and text messages sent by media for his response to the report. This news report will be updated when he gives his reaction.
Officials said the police commissioner was told to send the report to the home department after Sachin Vaze’s arrest.
Vaze was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on 13 March for his alleged role in planting a vehicle with 20 loose gelatin sticks near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence, Antilia. He is the prime suspect in the murder of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran, who is linked to the vehicle found near Antilia. This case is being investigated by the NIA.
The police commissioner’s report, which is seen to link Param Bir Singh to the controversial police officer Sachin Vaze, immediately prompted calls to put the former city police chief’s role under scrutiny.
On 7 April, the NIA summoned Param Bir Singh for questioning in the two cases.
Maharashtra Indian National Congress (INC) spokesperson Sachin Sawant said this was something they had been demanding for days, because of Param Bir Singh’s “close proximity” with arrested API Vaze.
“It has now been established that Singh is as responsible as Vaze in these two cases,” the INC leader said.
Singh was removed as police commissioner on 17 March and shifted as commandant general of home guards. Param Bir Singh ignited a political storm soon after, with a letter to Uddhav Thackeray accusing the then home minister Anil Deshmukh of corruption. Singh later approached the Supreme Court and high court too. On 5 April, Deshmukh finally had to resign after the Bombay high court asked the CBI to hold a preliminary inquiry into the allegation.
Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale’s report, sought by the home department while Deshmukh was still home minister, links Param Bir Singh to the decision to revoke Sachin Vaze’s suspension.
“The decision about the reinstatement of Vaze was taken in a suspension review committee meeting on 5 June 2020, chaired by Singh, joint police commissioner (administration) and other two senior officers. Vaze was reinstated on 9 June and was given posting in CIU, after initial appointment in the armed unit,” the report said, pointing that the then joint commissioner (Crime) had strongly opposed Vaze’s posting in the CIU.
It said Param Bir Singh ensured that Vaze headed the CIU though he, unlike other police officers who led the crucial unit in the past, was not an inspector-rank officer.