The Mumbai Police on Tuesday opposed before a court the Enforcement Directorate’s petition seeking access to suspended officer Sachin Vaze to record his statement and question him in a money laundering case, PTI reported.
The case involves former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. The former minister had in March been accused of extortion by former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh.
The officer alleged that Deshmukh had asked Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels.
Deshmukh had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on November 1. Last week, the Bombay High Court had sent the Nationalist Congress Party leader to the central agency’s custody till November 12.
Singh is also facing an investigation in several matters, including four extortion cases filed by the Maharashtra Police.
Vaze is presently in the custody of the Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch in connection with an extortion case filed against him, Singh and others in Goregaon, according to the Hindustan Times.
The Enforcement Directorate wanted to question Vaze before Deshmukh’s custody got over, India Today reported. “The accused being a key conspirator, his recording of the statement is need of the hour,” the agency told the court.
But the Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch argued that the Enforcement Directorate’s was trying to sabotage its investigation, The Indian Express reported.
“Their [the ED’s] so-called accused [Vaze] is a puppet in their hands,” Special Public Prosecutor Shekhar Jagtap argued. “Whomsoever they want to show as accused in the future, he is being used for that purpose.”
Jagtap added that the two investigations cannot be conducted together, the Hindustan Times reported. “We cannot allow them [Vaze’s custody] for two hours or for two days,” the lawyer added. “Our probe is already on.”
After hearing both the sides, the court rejected the Enforcement Directorate’s petition.
Vaze had also been arrested in the Antilia bomb threat case.
In February, 20 gelatin sticks had been recovered from a car found less than 2km from industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s multi-storey home in Mumbai. On March 5, Mansukh Hiren, who reportedly owned the vehicle, was found dead in a creek in Mumbai.
After taking over the case, the NIA on March 13 arrested Vaze for his alleged links with Hiren. He was suspended two days later.
The agency had alleged that Vaze was the main accused in the bomb threat case. On April 12, it arrested Riyazuddin Kazi, an associate of Vaze, who allegedly helped him acquire fake number plates used for the explosives-laden vehicle.
Kazi also allegedly helped Vaze get rid of the evidence linking him to the case.