The Maharashtra government will go by the merit of the case in deciding what action should be taken against Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria, who met Lalit Modi in London in 2014 when the former IPL chief was wanted in India for alleged financial irregularities.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said his government has yet to take a call as Maria’s explanation about his meeting with Modi is being analysed.
“A decision will be taken on the merit of the case after examining the report submitted by the officer to the government on Monday,” he said, making it clear that Maria still faced the benefit of doubt.
The high-profile officer met the chief minister twice — Monday evening and Tuesday morning. These were scheduled meetings and nothing to do with the controversy, Fadnavis said.
The state’s BJP government is apparently divided over action against the Mumbai police chief. Leaders from the ruling party are said to be wary of the consequences if Maria, who is due for promotion to the rank of director general in September, is shifted out because it could escalate the Opposition’s cry for resignation of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje.
Popularly known as “Super Maria” for handling some of India’s most critical underworld and terror-related cases, such as the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the high-profile officer was sucked into the Modi controversy after a news channel showed a photo of him and former IPL boss together in London.
On Monday, he wrote to additional chief secretary (home) KP Bakshi explaining his position after chief minister Fadnavis sought an explanation.
“Maria wrote that on returning to Mumbai he maintained the records of the meeting, besides his briefing to then home minister, the late RR Patil. He stated that the anti-extortion cell was directed to take note of the underworld threat to Modi and investigate,” an official said.
The city’s top police officer said he met the former IPL boss in July 2014 after being repeatedly persuaded by Modi’s lawyer when he was in London to attend a conference. During the 20-minute meeting, he said, Modi sought Mumbai police’s help because of threats from the underworld.
A state home department official said aspects such as breach of conduct rules and confidentiality, and if there were vested interests or favouritism behind the meet, were being analysed before the chief minister takes a call.
“Bakshi is examining the officer’s report. This is an old case and, hence, time is required to study every detail and analyze the information provided by Maria. Bakshi is taking his time because his opinion will be very important for the government to take a decision on Maria’s fate," he said.
“Based on Bakshi’s opinion, the CM may take a call within 1-2 days.”
Read:Mumbai police chief submits report on his meeting with Lalit Modi