Sachin Vaze was reinstated at Param Bir Singh’s behest: Mumbai Police
Mumbai Suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze was directly reporting to then police commissioner Param Bir Singh before his (the former’s) arrest on March 13, said Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale in an official report on Wednesday. Assistant police inspectors do not usually report directly to the chiefs.
The report, submitted to the Maharashtra home department, added that Vaze was given executive posting in the crime intelligence unit (CIU) at the insistence of Singh despite resistance from then joint commissioner (crime), Santosh Rastogi. Vaze was suspended from the force in March 2004 for his involvement in a custodial killing case; he was reinstated in the force in June 2005 by a committee headed by Singh.
Singh did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.
Vaze was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with an explosives-laden car found outside billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s residence Antilia on February 25, and the subsequent death of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran (in whose possession the car was) on March 5. The agency on Wednesday summoned Singh for interrogation in connection with the two cases.
According to officials from the home department, the report was asked for immediately after Vaze’s arrest.
In his report, Nagrale , who replaced Singh on March 17 , said all critical decision related to arrests, raids, remand applications, anticipatory bails were taken under Vaze’s directions. The report also said Vaze neither reported to his immediate bosses in the crime branch nor let his subordinates do so.
“Vaze used to accompany Param Bir Singh during the briefing to the minister, home, on critical cases including TRP scam, Antilia explosive scare, Dilip Chhabria’s arrest. Vaze never obeyed the hierarchy of ranks to report over the cases under investigation,” the report said, referring to some high profile cases the Mumbai Police has investigated over the past few months -- allegations of manipulations of television ratings and celebrity car designer Chhabria’s involvement in a car financing fraud.
Singh was transferred by the state government after the NIA and the state anti terrorism squad began investigation in the Antilia explosives and Mansukh Hiran case.
The two connected cases have roiled the state government and the Mumbai Police. On February 25, a SUV with explosives was found outside Antilla with a threat letter addressed to the billionaire businessman and his wife. The vehicle has been reported stolen by Hiran, an auto parts dealer, on February 17. Vaze was initially put in charge of the case but removed when questions rose about his relationship with Hiran. It later emerged that the two did know ach other and Vaze had even borrowed the same Scorpio and used it for months before returning it in early February. Hiran’s body was recovered from a creek in Mumbai on March 5. NIA, which is investigating the two cases, and the state ATS, which was investigating the Hiran death before it was taken over by the federal agency, have both identified Vaze as the main accused in the case.
Singh was transferred out on March 17, and soon after wrote a letter to the chief minister accusing the state home minister Anil Deshmukh of directly briefing Vaze to extort up to ₹100 crore a month from restaurants and bars. He approached the Supreme Court with a plea built around his letter, alleging that his transfer was motivated, and seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the allegations he raised.
On April 5, the Mumbai High court said CBI should conduct a preliminary enquiry in the case. Shortly after, Deshmukh resigned.
Nagrale’s letter also claims that Vaze’s appointment in CIU in June 2020 was strongly opposed by the then joint commisioner (crime) Santosh Rastogi.
“The decision about the reinstatement of Vaze was taken in a suspension review committee meeting on June 5, 2020, chaired by Singh, joint police commissioner (administration) and other two senior officers. Vaze was reinstated on June 9 and was given posting in CIU, after initial appointnement in Armed unit,” the report stated.
The report also said that though the CIU was earlier headed by an officer of the rank of inspector, Vaze was appointed on Singh’s direction.
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “We have been demanding the interrogation of Singh by NIA because of his close proximity with arrested API Vaze. It has been now established that Singh is as responsible as Vaze in these two cases. The DVR which has been misplaced from the Mumbai Commisioner office will certainly throw more light on this entire link, if retrieved.”
The Congress, NCP, and Shiv Sena are partners in the state’s MVA government.