In the detailed order on the rejection of suspended police officer Sachin Vaze’s bail application in the corruption case related to former state minister Anil Deshmukh, the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court observed that there is prima facie evidence to indicate that Vaze was “an active participant in the generation of proceeds of crime and actually involved in the laundering of the said proceeds of crime”.
Special judge RN Rokade took note of the fact that Vaze was suspended on two earlier occasions – first time in January 2003, in a case regarding escape of suspected terrorist Khwaja Yunus (an accused in a 2002 bomb blast case), and the second time in March 2004 for the alleged custodial death of Yunus.
He was reinstated on both the occasions in May 2003 and June 2020. Former commissioner of police (Mumbai) Param Bir Singh had given a statement that Vaze was reinstated due to political pressure used by him, added the court.
Vaze is also an accused in the Antilia bomb scare case, which is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). “Prima facie, the background of the applicant(Vaze) indicates that he is an influential person…Considering the antecedents of the applicant, the possibility of tampering with the witnesses cannot be firmly ruled out,”said the special court. The court further added: “…the investigation is at a nascent stage and the proceeds of crime are yet to be recovered.” The case against Vaze is based entirely on documentary trail, banking transactions and statements taken on oath. Therefore, there is no chance of hampering the case or tampering with the evidence, his advocates Sajal Yadav and HarshGhangurde argued.
Special public prosecutors Sunil Gonsalves and Sriram Shirsat opposed the bail plea, contending that Vaze indulged in illegal activities while performing his police duty as the head of the Crime Intelligence Unit of the Maharashtra police.
The ED had further contended that on Deshmukh’s instructions, Vaze had called a meeting with orchestra bar owners and demanded a sum of Rs 3 lakh each from 1,750 bars across the city. Vaze, in his statement,has admitted to calling the meeting, collecting cash and handing it over to Kundan Shinde, Deshmukh’s then PA, the court noted. “He fairly conceded that he had collected approximately Rs 4.7 crore from orchestra bar owners between December 2020 and February 2021,” added the court in its order.