Senior IPS officers under scanner for extortion, cheating cases

Published on Apr 06, 2022 08:13 PM IST

The 2010-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer is being investigated by the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai police crime branch for allegedly extorting ₹19 lakh

The Maharashtra Police are currently investigating eight senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers for various serious cases like extortion, forgery, cheating, phone-tapping (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Maharashtra Police are currently investigating eight senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers for various serious cases like extortion, forgery, cheating, phone-tapping (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
ByVinay Dalvi

Mumbai: While rejecting the anticipatory bail plea of Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Saurabh Tripathi, the Mumbai session’s court last week observed that it seemed to be a case of “the fence eating the crop”, coming down heavily on the officer’s alleged extortion from a South Mumbai angadia (courier) network.

The 2010-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer is being investigated by the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai police crime branch for allegedly extorting 19 lakh from angadia service providers — who transport valuables like gold and diamonds, jewellery, and cash for a fee — while he was posted as DCP, Zone II in the city. He allegedly threatened to report them to the Income-Tax department if they failed to give the money.

Tripathi reportedly asked three police officials, inspector Om Wangate, police sub-inspector Nitin Kadam and assistant police inspector Samadhan Jamdade to collect money from the angadias in the first week of December 2021; all three have been arrested.

The Maharashtra Police are currently investigating eight senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers for various serious cases like extortion, forgery, cheating, phone-tapping as well as charges under provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000. This is perhaps the first time when such a high number of IPS officers are facing criminal cases in the state.

Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, one of the senior most IPS officers in the state police force, was suspended in December last year and five cases of extortion were registered against him in Mumbai and Thane police stations in 2021; three preliminary inquiries are underway. Singh was untraceable for a few months, but joined the investigations in November after the Supreme Court (SC) granted protection from arrest. Singh was even declared a “proclaimed offender” — he is the first Mumbai police commissioner to earn the dubious title — based on a plea by crime branch filed at the Esplanade Metropolitan Magistrate Court. Last month, the SC transferred all cases registered against Singh from the Maharashtra police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“As per directions of the Honourable Apex Court to the CBI to conduct investigation into all the FIRs registered against Singh so as to determine whether these are genuine allegations or whether they are only repercussions of Singh raising red flag against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh. Accordingly, the CBI will be required to ascertain the facts in all these allegations and thereafter further course of action will be decided by the CBI,” said special public prosecutor in the case, advocate Shekhar Jagtap.

Last March, Singh alleged that Deshmukh, the former home minister, ran an extortion racket of 100-crore, asking police officials to collect money from bars, restaurants and hotels. Deshmukh, who is in custody of the Enforcement Directorate, and will soon be taken into custody by the CBI, has denied all allegations.

Besdies Singh, the Mumbai and Thane police are investigating Deputy Commissioners of Police Akbar Pathan and Parag Manere in some of the cases registered against Singh. (Singh was the Thane police commissioner before he assumed the role of Mumbai’s top cop.) Inspectors Nandkumar Gopale, Asha Korke and dismissed police inspector Sachin Vaze — currently in CBI custody — are also being probed in relation to these cases.

DCP Abhishek Trimukhe is being investigated by the Mumbai police for allegedly leaking “confidential” documents related to Deshmukh’s case to builder Sanjay Punamiya, a co-accused in the extortion case registered against Singh.

The Colaba Police and the Pune police are investigating former state intelligence director Rashmi Shukla — currently posted as Additional Director General of Police at Central Reserve Police Force in Hyderabad — for illegally tapping the phones of persons she was investigating for an alleged cash for transfer scam involving Maharashtra politicians and police officers. The senior IPS officer of Maharashtra cadre is also being investigated in another phone tapping case which is registered against unknown persons by the city Cyber Cell police.

Shukla, who was granted protection from arrest by the Bombay high court (HC), said in a March 22 petition that the cases against her were registered on motivated complaints only with the intention of harassing her.

Another senior IPS officer being proved is additional director general of police, Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) Deven Bharti. He is being investigated in a case of cheating, forgery and sections of the Indian Passport Act. Under Bharti’s guidance, the crime branch had investigated several high-profile cases including the murder of journalist J Dey, the 26/11 terror attack, the Sheena Bora murder case and even effected a crackdown on terror outfit, Indian Mujahideen.

The 1994-batch IPS officer has been booked for allegedly pressuring an inspector from the special branch-I to not pursue a matter against Reshma Khairati Khan, who is married to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mumbai vice-president Hyder Azam Khan. Reshma was accused of illegally obtaining an Indian passport with the help of a bogus birth certificate. Bharti was the joint commissioner of police (law and order) at the time.

IPS officer Ravindra Patil (2005 batch) was arrested by the Pune police on March 12. The Pune police had roped in the ex-IPS officer and one cyber expert Pankaj Ghode to investigate a multi-crore crypto currency scam purportedly masterminded by Amit Bharadwaj.

However, after recovery of the crypto-currency the police alleged the accused transferred it to his own e-wallet, rather than transferring it to the police account. It has also been alleged that he even manipulated the screenshots of those transactions, to show them as being credited in the police recovery account, which he submitted as proof.

“We have recovered crypto currency worth 6 crore from the accused,” said Pune police commissioner Amitabh Gupta.

“Most of the cases registered against IPS officers, apart from Saurabh Tripathi and Ravindra Patil are due to political vendetta or rivalry,” said former additional director general of police P K Jain. “However, it was unfortunate that police officials are being made a scapegoat in the fight between the Centre and the state.”

“At one point of time, Mumbai police force was considered one of the best police forces in the country. But the series of complaints against senior police officers has badly impacted the image of the force. It has taken a toll on the morale, self-esteem and credibility of the police,” said retired IPS officer and former director general of police Parvinder Singh Pasricha.

Former Maharashtra DGP Pravin Dixit said that strict action in individual corruption cases was important to send a strong message to the cadres.

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