Devendra Fadnavis our star witness: Mumbai cyber cell tells court

Published on Dec 24, 2021 07:43 PM IST
Mumbai cyber cell on Friday informed the Esplanade metropolitan magistrate court that opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis was their “star witness” in the SID paper leak case
The ACMM court is likely to pass orders on the state government’s plea on December 28. (HT File)
The ACMM court is likely to pass orders on the state government’s plea on December 28. (HT File)
ByVinay Dalvi

Mumbai Mumbai cyber cell on Friday informed the Esplanade metropolitan magistrate court that opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis was their “star witness” in the State Intelligence Department (SID) paper leaks case involving IPS officer Rashmi Shukla. Although, they added that the BJP leader and former chief minister haven’t so far responded to their letters.

The ACMM court is likely to pass orders on the state government’s plea on December 28.

Sudhir Bhajipale, an additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM), was hearing an application filed by the state government, seeking documents and technical evidence from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

In a press conference on March 23, 2021, Fadnavis alleged rampant corruption in transfers and postings of police officers in Maharashtra. He also pointed out certain documents and reports prepared by the then SID commissioner, Rashmi Shukla, in support of his allegations. He claimed that the state did not act on the report and therefore, he was going to hand over the entire material, including a pen drive, to the MHA.

Mumbai cyber cell has sought the material provided by Fadnavis to the MHA. “Our investigation has progressed now. To find out the source from where the data was leaked, we need to get hold of the documents that were leaked. We have written letters from May to September to MHA demanding the documents and gadgets to be handed over to us. However, we have not received any reply,” said special prosecutor Ajay Misar, who appeared for the cyber cell.

On Friday, ACMM Bhajipale enquired with Misar as to on what basis they were saying that the documents and the pen drive were with Fadnavis.

“We have information that Devendra Fadnavis handed over the documents to Union Home Secretary, as he told a TV channel about it,” Misar replied, referencing the BJP leader’s interview of March 23 to a Marathi news channel.

Assistant commissioner of police Nitin Jadhav of the Cyber Cell then informed the court that they have already written to the Opposition leader four times and received only one reply, which said that he will soon hand them over. “He is our star witness, as he only can tell us more about the person who handed him the documents and the pen drive,” Misar said.

Advocate Shreeram Shirsath, who appeared for the MHA, opposed the application as vague and untenable. “They will have to clearly identify the documents, show by some credible proof that the documents are in possession of the said party,” said Shirsath. It has also to be borne in mind that the home secretary is not an accused in the case, he said adding that the state’s application does not specify the documents.

Mumbai cyber cell has registered the FIR on March 26 on the basis of complaint lodged by an assistant commissioner, SID against unknown persons for leaking a classified report that IPS officer Rashmi Shukla prepared and which contained details of some private individuals, who acted as brokers for facilitating transfers and securing desired postings for senior police officers in lieu of money and by using their political connection.

The August 2020 report also contained the names of six IPS and 23 state service officers who were in touch with the brokers. The report also mentioned how some transfers took place due to political influence. Police officials claim that Shukla, the then SID commissioner and presently posted at Hyderabad as additional director general of Central Reserve Police Force, South Zone, had copied the report on three pen drives, while two of them have been recovered by the cyber cell, the third one was sent by Fadnavis to the Union Home Secretary.

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