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New Maharashtra DGP starts inquiry against Param Bir Singh

Amid the controversies that the home department and Maharashtra Police force have been embroiled in, the state government has started taking steps for damage control
By Surendra P Gangan
PUBLISHED ON APR 11, 2021 01:39 AM IST

Amid the controversies that the home department and Maharashtra Police force have been embroiled in, the state government has started taking steps for damage control.

After appointing Sanjay Pandey, director general (Maharashtra State Security Corporation), as the acting director general of police (state police chief) late on Friday, the state has also initiated preliminary inquiry against former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh based on the report submitted by city’s current police chief Hemant Nagrale. Pandey is expected to submit the inquiry report in the next few weeks.

The inquiry was ordered vide a letter by home department on April 1. The terms of reference set for the probe include whether Singh defaulted in his duty by not apprising the government over the explosives scare outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence on February 25 and if he failed to provide accurate information about the case to his seniors in March.

In the backdrop of the arrest of former cop Sachin Vaze and the established involvement of police officers in the case, the inquiry would try to establish if Singh failed to keep his subordinates under his control and supervision. The probe letter also states that the letter written by Singh to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on March 20 was not by using an appropriate channel and was widely published in media, which “maligned” the image of the state government. The DGP will inquire if Singh’s act led to the violation of the All-India Services (Conduct) Rules 1968.

Pandey has been given powers under section 32 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to summon officers, personnel to record their statements.

Singh, soon after he was shunted out from the top cop’s post, had written to CM on March 20, alleging that Anil Deshmukh, during his tenure as home minister, had forced crime branch officers to collect 100 crore each month from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours.

The report submitted by Nagrale has stated that Vaze, who is the prime accused in the explosives case, was reporting directly to Singh. The report has also stated that Vaze’s appointment in the crime intelligence unit was on Singh’s insistence, though it was strongly opposed by the then joint police commissioner (crime).

“The probe will throw light on whether Singh failed in his duty to control Vaze and if he had any role in the actions taken by Vaze. The probe will also be conducted to find out if Singh failed to apprise the government with the facts related to the explosives case, in which the leader of Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, had more information than the home department,” said an official from Mantralaya.

The probe will also verify the letter written by Singh was leaked to the media by him. “It was his responsibility to ensure that the issue was raised through the right channel and is not leaked out. He has also moved courts against the state government demanding probe by central agencies. This has dented the image of the state government and the probe will also look into it,” the official said.

The state appointed Pandey, a 1986-batch IPS (Indian Police Service) officer who is the senior most among the director generals, as acting DGP after tweaking its decision of appointing Rajnish Seth (1988 batch) as acting DGP after Nagrale, the then acting DGP, was appointed as Mumbai Police commissioner on March 17.

“Pandey is an upright officer with high integrity. Though he was sidelined by subsequent governments for various reasons, the decision to appoint him as the acting DGP is a strategic move. He is expected to play a key role in repairing the mess in the police force and take action against the ‘errant’ officials,” said a home department official.

Pandey had written a four-page letter to CM last month after he was denied the appointment to DGP’s post. Complaining that “injustice” had been meted out to him, Pandey wrote, “You overlooked me for the post of DG (anti-corruption bureau) which was given to a junior officer, despite the tradition of giving it to the senior-most officer. I was sidelined even when it came to the appointment of the Mumbai Police chief’s post. When Subodh Jaiswal chose to go on central deputation, the additional charge was not given to me, but again to a junior officer. That was illegal as per the SC (Supreme Court) ruling in the Prakash Singh case. The career built over several years is thus demolished just due to some personal prejudices.”

Pandey had believably threatened to move court if he was not given a posting with respect to his seniority. The government believably has appointed Pandey to avoid further embarrassment. According to officials, the government is also expecting Pandey to clean up the mess in the force.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is expected to complete the process of empanelment for the DGP’s post in the next few weeks.

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