Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court that a Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police (Crime branch) will be heading its Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe cases against builder Shyamsundar Agrawal. Agrawal had previously registered a complaint against former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, builder Sanjay Punamiya, and others.
Public prosecutor Aruna Kamath-Pai informed a division bench of Justices Nitin Sambre and RN Laddha that Jt CP Lakhmi Gautam will head the probe against Agrawal.
Plea for SIT probe
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Agarwal seeking the quashing of the FIR against him. Alternatively, he sought that the case be probed by an SIT.
In 2021, an FIR was registered by the Juhu police against Agarwal based on a complaint by Sanjay Punamiya, alleging that at Agarwal's behest, gangster Chota Shakeel had called and threatened him, asking him to back off from a land deal. The FIR was transferred to the crime branch and later to the Maharashtra CID.
The same year, Agrawal also filed a complaint against Punamiya and some policemen.
Punamiya has also filed a petition in the HC seeking an impartial probe into the case.
During the hearing on Friday, Agarwal’s counsels Anil Singh and Sandesh Patil argued that the FIR was dormant until now. However, an Additional Director General (ADG) rank police officer is digging up the FIR, taking action, and ignoring ongoing processes. They alleged that the police officer was in direct collusion with the complainant, Sanjay Punamiya.
Singh said that they did not have confidence in the officer appointed by the Maharashtra government to head the SIT.
Next hearing on Sept 14
Agarwal has also alleged that Punamiya, who is allegedly close to Param Bir Singh, was threatening to invoke the stringent law, MCOCA, against him.
The HC asked the government whether the SIT chief could be changed.
To this, Pai said that the investigators cannot be changed at the instance of an accused.
However, when the bench said that it would then pass an order, Pai sought instructions and informed the HC that the Jt CP, crime, will head the SIT.
The HC has kept petitions filed by Agarwal and Punamiya for a hearing on September 14. Meanwhile, the HC has directed the police not to take any coercive action against Agarwal.