Extortion case: Police file charge sheet against Param Bir Singh, Sachin Vaze
The crime branch on Saturday pressed charges against former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh, dismissed assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze and two others in an extortion case filed by an hotelier.
This is the first charge sheet filed against Singh, who has five first information reports registered against him in Mumbai and Thane police stations between April 28 and August 20, 2021.
“We have collected evidence and recorded statements of many witnesses to establish how Singh and Vaze were running an extortion racket,” said special public prosecutor Shekhar Jagtap. Singh had recorded his statement in the case last week.
The crime branch collected 69 audio clips of conversations between Vaze, complainant Bimal Agarwal and the witness from whom Vaze allegedly extorted ₹35 lakh. The transcript of the clips forms part of the charge sheet.
The witness stated that Vaze threatened to arrest him in a case registered by the Property Cell of Mumbai Police against cricket bookies though he claimed to have nothing to do with it, according to the charge sheet.
The witness said Vaze sent him a message, asking him to pay ₹2 crore if he wanted to avoid being arrested. The witness said he was forced to pay the amount, which he gave to Alpesh Patel, an accused in the case.
During the course of its investigation, Mumbai crime branch recorded statements of several bar owners, many of whom said Vaze collected monthly “protection amounts” from them at the behest of Param Bir Singh, whom Vaze referred to as “number one.”
This assumes importance in view of the fact that in his statements to the Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes, Vaze had claimed he collected money from bar owners in Mumbai based on instructions of former home minister Anil Deshmukh of the Nationalist Congress Party.
The 1,895 pages long charge sheet against Singh and others contained statements of dozens of witnesses and was filed before the Esplanade metropolitan magistrate court, crime branch officials said.
Vaze was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on March 13 in connection with his alleged role in planting explosives (gelatine sticks without a timer or detonator) in an SUV outside the house of industrialist Mukesh Ambani in February, and the subsequent murder of Thane trader Mansukh Hiran to whom the car belonged.
On August 25, Goregaon police registered an extortion case against Singh, Vaze and others based on a complaint by hotelier Bimal Agarwal, who alleged that the accused extorted ₹11.92 lakh from him by threatening to register cases against two bars he owned in partnership with others.
The offence had reportedly taken place between January 2020 and March 2021, police had said. The case was later transferred to Unit 11 of the crime branch for investigation.
Besides Singh and Vaze, others charge-sheeted in the case include Alpesh Patel and Sumit Singh, alias Chintu. While Vaze is in judicial custody, Patel and Sumit Singh are out on bail. Police are yet to file a charge sheet against two others accused in the case, Vinay Singh and Riyaz Bhati.
Singh, who was recently suspended by the state government from his post as the director general of Maharashtra Home Guard. He showed up before investigators last week after the Supreme Court granted him protection from arrest.