The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has claimed to have established the “factum of demand and collection of money from bar owners/ establishment” at the behest of former home minister Anil Deshmukh through suspended cop Sachin Vaze, who has now been made an approver in the case and has received pardon from the special court.
The chargesheet submitted by the CBI has relied on statements of former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh and Vaze, where the former has claimed that he had informed Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other senior ministers about Deshmukh, who seemed to be aware of the former home minister’s misdeeds.
In its chargesheet, submitted before the special court recently, the CBI has sought to prosecute Deshmukh and his aides Sanjeev Palande and Kundan Shinde for extortion, conspiracy and for taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act (while discharging duty as public servant).
Singh has also claimed his statement that he was pressurised to re-instate Vaze, who was under suspension for his alleged role in custodial death of a bomb blast accused, by the CM and Deshmukh.
The former top cop has said in his in statement that, in March 2021, he met CM on several occasions at his official bungalow, Varsha, where he briefed the CM about Deshmukh’s misdeeds. “I say that there was a meeting at Varsha between to March 4 to 15, 2021, in which I briefed him about the acts of the HM. However, the CM merely said that he (Deshmukh) was my home minister,” said Singh.
Singh has claimed to have informed NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, Anil Parab and Jayant Patil. Although Ajit Pawar and Parab seemed to be aware of these “malpractices”, “they did not confirm about their knowledge in words but from their reactions, I could make out that they already knew,” claimed Singh.
Denying that he made allegations against Deshmukh after being shunted out from the post of Mumbai commissioner police, Singh has said: “It was the HM who was vindictive and raised false allegations of lapses in the Antilia bomb scare investigations against me for his own political gains.”
As far as reinstating Vaze is concerned, Singh has said that he was pressurised by CM and HM for the same.
Relying on Sachin Vaze’s confessional statement, CBI has said that, the suspended cop has said that he was called to the official residence of Deshmukh after Diwali in 2020, where he was asked to collect Rs 100 crore per month from 1,750 bar owners and other establishments.
“Handing over the collected bribe money to Kundan Shinde for and on behalf of Sh. Anil Deshmukh is also established through the confessional statement of Sachin Vaze and the circumstances surrounding it,” read the chargesheet.
The agency has also claimed to have established that the bar owners were put in fear of loss of their business unless they paid money.
In addition, Vaze has claimed in his statement that Deshmukh had asked him to pay Rs 2 crore for getting him re-instated in the police force.
On June 1, 2022, Vaze has been tendered pardon by the court after his plea to turn approver was accepted.
The CBI has also attached statements of various bar owners wherein they admitted to meeting Vaze in December 2020, at the Office of the Commissioner of Police. During the meeting, Vaze asked them to pay around Rs 3 lakh each if they do not want any police action.
Vaze had told the bar owners that the money was meant for the police and "Number 1". The Number 1, as revealed by Vaze, was Deshmukh.
One of the bar owners has said that he did not ask who the Number 1 was, but assumed it to be police commissioner.
However, the CBI has attached statement of ACP Sanjay Patil who was told by Vaze about Deshmukh's demand to collect Rs 40 to 50 crore each month from bars. Patil’s statement read: “When I asked Vaze why was he doing this (collecting money), Vaze told me he was doing this for Number 1. When I asked him who Number 1 was, he (Vaze) said it was the Commissioner of Police. However, the code name for the CP Mumbai in wireless communication is 'King'.”
The agency has said that it has sought sanction to prosecute Deshmukh and Palande from the government. It is awaiting the response.