Even as the CBI has launched a preliminary enquiry into allegations of corruption made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh against NCP’s Anil Deshmukh, forcing him to resign as the Maharashtra home minister, the state government has ordered its own enquiry against Singh.
Singh had on March 20 written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, accusing Deshmukh of setting monthly collection targets for the Mumbai Police.
The Home Department had issued the order for the probe on April 1, when Deshmukh was still the minister. Senior IPS officer Sanjay Pandey has been tasked to conduct the inquiry. Sources said that if anything incriminating is found, a department inquiry could be ordered and lead to Singh’s suspension.
The focus of the probe is to find out how officers like suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Waze, arrested by the NIA in connection to the Mukesh Ambani security scare case, went rogue while working under Singh.
Pandey has also been asked to probe whether Singh had given the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government all necessary information about the Ambani case during the Budget Session of the state legislature that began within a week of the security scare taking place.
The copy of the April 1 order (accessed by The Indian Express), addressed to Pandey, is undersigned by section officer Dinesh Saste. As per the order, the inquiry was ordered on the basis of a report submitted by the joint commissioner of police (Crime) to the Home Department on March 24. In the report, it was stated that Waze was made the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) in charge against the advice of then joint commissioner of police (Crime).
The probe order also asked Pandey to find out how Singh lost oversight of Waze, who reported directly to him, and other officers suspected to be involved in the Ambani case.
“Waze was made the CIU chief against the advice of then joint commissioner of police (Crime) and was given important cases. He was asked to report to the commissioner. Waze was later arrested in the Ambani terror scare case. Did Singh, under whose control and supervision these officers worked, slip up in his duty?” the order read.
It added that though such a major incident took place around the Budget Session, Singh did not send a report about the details of the incident at the earliest to the government. The inquiry should find out if it shows carelessness and neglect on the part of the commissioner.
If further said that Singh did not follow procedure in writing to the CM making allegations against Deshmukh. “The letter appeared in the media the same day, thereby tarnishing the image of Maharashtra government. It should be inquired whether Singh has flouted All India Service (Conduct) Rules, 1968.”
It also asked Pandey to probe if by going to the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court seeking a CBI inquiry, Singh has flouted service rules.
Lastly, the probe seeks to find if Singh provided the government all relevant information about the Ambani incident. The order added that Pandey has all the necessary powers to call witnesses and record their statements.
When contacted, Pandey refused to comment on the issue. Home Department sources said the inquiry was already underway.
Usually, a probe that verifies the allegations may be followed by a department inquiry, during which the person being probed is given a chance to defend themselves and has the power to call witnesses. In some situations, such an inquiry is accompanied by a suspension order to ensure the person being probed cannot interfere with the investigation.
Singh, who was removed as the Mumbai Police commissioner in the wake of the Ambani case, had written to Thackeray stating that Deshmukh had set some of his officers like Waze targets of how much money was to be collected each month from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
He had later approached the Bombay High Court seeking a CBI probe into the allegations. On April 5, the HC had asked the CBI to conduct an enquiry into the matter. Deshmukh resigned the same day.