PIL seeking independent probe against Anil Deshmukh to be heard today
The Bombay high court (HC) is scheduled to hear on Tuesday a petition filed by Mumbai lawyer Dr Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil, seeking an independent investigation into the purported malpractices by Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, as alleged by former city police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Dr Patil has referred to the March 20 letter written by Singh to the chief minister, in which the former top cop has alleged that Deshmukh had asked suspended police officer Sachin Vaze, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Antilia explosives scare case, to collect ₹100 crore every month, including ₹40-50 crore from 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai. She sought handing over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) or any other independent agency.
Singh himself has filed a criminal public interest litigation (PIL) in HC after the Supreme Court directed him to do so, when he had approached the Apex court. Singh has also sought a CBI probe into the alleged malpractices resorted to by the home minister and sought the seizure of the CCTV footage of the minister’s home. His PIL also calls for the report of the then commissioner of state intelligence Rashmi Shukla, and all files connected to the report – purportedly revealing malpractices in police transfers in Maharashtra – to be placed before HC.
Meanwhile, advocate Ghanashyam Upadhyaya has also a filed a PIL seeking a court-monitored probe by CBI or ED into the allegations made by Singh. Upadhyay also sought the seizure of the properties amassed by tainted police officers. He has called for a time-bound probe against Singh, Vaze, assistant commissioner of police Sanjay Patil, deputy commissioner of police Raju Bhujbal and some politicians including Deshmukh.
Meanwhile, Vaze’s brother Sudharm had on March 15 filed a habeas corpus petition in HC, seeking the former cop’s production before the court.
No specific dates are, however, given for hearing of the PILs filed by Singh, Upadhyay or Sudharm.
2 cops stationed outside home of Vaze’s kin
Vaze’s sister Anuradha Hatkar, 50, on March 19 had filed an application in the court to issue directions to the media, stationed outside her house since her brother’s arrest. Hatkar, who stays at Saket, claimed that several media persons were repeatedly asking her questions regarding the case. She claimed that she feared for the well-being of her family despite being nowhere connected to the case. The court of district judge Shailendra Tambe directed the Rabodi police station to look into her complaint. Rajendra Shirtode, senior police officer of Rabodi, said, “Following the court’s directives, we have stationed two constables round the clock outside her house to discourage anyone from going near it.”
Retired HC judge likely to head state probe against Deshmukh
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government decided to probe the allegations of extortion against home minister Anil Deshmukh last week, but is yet to make an official announcement on it
It is likely to set up a judicial commission under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, in which case, the probe has to be headed by a retired high court judge
Under the Act, the panel will have certain powers, and can work like a civil court. It can summon any person and examine witnesses on oath. It can also receive evidence on affidavits and requisition any public record or copy thereof from any court or office
The commission will get a couple of months to complete the probe and submit its findings to the state government
Currently, a panel under the Commissions of Inquiry Act is investigating the violence that took place at Bhima Koregaon near Pune in January 2018. Formed in February 2018, it was given four months to complete the probe. But the completion of the probe was extended on multiple occasions. It is yet to submit its report to the state government.
Two of former cop Sachin Vaze’s accomplices – cricket bookie Naresh Ramniklal Gor, 31, and ex-cop Vinayak Balasaheb Shinde, 51 – were sent to Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad’s (ATS) custody in Thane trader Mansukh Hiran’s murder case till March 30. However, on March 24, the chief judicial magistrate at Thane directed ATS to transfer the probe to NIA. Accordingly, NIA received Gor and Shinde’s custody. The application for Vaze’s custody filed by ATS before the special NIA court became infructuous and was not pressed by ATS on the due date, March 25.
Vaze’s pre-arrest bail
Apprehending his arrest in the Hiran murder case, Vaze had on March 12 applied to the Thane district and sessions court for anticipatory bail. The next day, he was arrested by NIA in the Antilia case. The sessions court refused to grant any interim protection from arrest to him and posted his plea for further hearing on March 19. It was then adjourned to March 30.
(Inputs from Faisal Malik)