Suspended Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze, in a letter he intended to submit to the special National Investigation Agency court on Wednesday, has alleged that ex-Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and Transport Minister Anil Parab demanded more than Rs 100 crore from him, reported The Indian Express. Vaze’s claims corroborate former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh’s allegations of demanding extortion money against Deshmukh.
On Wednesday, Vaze’s lawyer wanted to submit the letter, dated April 3, to the court. However, Additional Sessions Judge PR Sitre refused to take the letter on record and instead asked the former crime branch officer to give a statement on the matter following procedure, Bar and Bench reported. Vaze is facing proceedings in connection to the explosives found near the house of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, and the subsequent death of businessman Mansukh Hiren.
In the letter, Vaze alleged that Deshmukh, who was then the home minister, asked him to pay Rs 2 crore, suggesting that some people had objected to his reinstatement to Mumbai Police in June last year, The Indian Express reported. Vaze said Deshmukh demanded the amount to convince Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who also wanted him suspended again.
“I expressed my inability to pay such an amount,” Vaze said in the letter, according to The Indian Express. “On this, the home minister sir asked me to pay in later course.”
The former Mumbai Police officer then went on to narrate another incident from January this year, when Deshmukh allegedly called Vaze to his official residence. “Anil Deshmukh told me that there are approximately 1,650 bars and restaurants in Mumbai and told me to collect Rs 3 to 3.5 lakhs each from these for him,” Vaze claimed in the letter, according to Live Law.
Vaze said that after he expressed his inability to collect the amount, Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan met him outside the former home minister’s chamber and asked him to comply with the instructions if he wished to keep his “job and post intact”. Vaze added that he informed Param Bir Singh about the meeting, who asked him not to get involved in such activities.
“I expressed my apprehension about this...I told him [Singh] that I would be embroiled in a false controversy in the near future,” Vaze’s letter stated, according to Bar and Bench. “The CP [Commissioner of Police] encouraged me and categorically instructed me not to involve myself in any such illegal collection of money from anyone and for anyone.”
Vaze’s accusations against Deshmukh support those levelled by Singh last month after he was removed from the post of Mumbai Police commissioner.
Mentioning a separate incident, Vaze also named Shiv Sena’s Anil Parab, who he alleged made a similar demand in July-August last year. Vaze alleged that Parab asked him to “initiate primary talks” with Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust which was facing an inquiry, and seek Rs 50 crore from the body to close the investigation.
“I had expressed my inability to do any such thing as I do not know anybody from SBUT and also I did not have any control over the inquiry,” Vaze stated in his letter, according to Bar and Bench.
Vaze further alleged that in January, Parab approached him over a list of fraudulent contractors with civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and sought “at least Rs 2 crore” from about 50 of them, The Indian Express reported. Vaze claimed that he did not find anything incriminating against the contractors till his transfer following the the Ambani case.
Narrating yet another incident, Vaze claimed that he was approached by a person who “introduced himself as a very close circle person” of NCP leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. who asked him to collect a monthly amount of Rs 100 crore from illegal gutka (chewing tobacco) sellers in the state. Vaze, however, claimed to have refused again.
Meanwhile, Parab has denied Vaze’s allegations and said that he will not resign from his post and was ready to face any inquiry on the matter. He called the charges a conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party against the Maharashtra government. The minister also questioned the timing of Vaze’s letter as it came soon after the Bombay High Court ordered a preliminary inquiry against Deshmukh on the basis of Singh’s allegations. Following the order, the Central Bureau of Investigation registered the inquiry on Tuesday night.
Court extends Vaze’s custody
Meanwhile, the NIA court on Wednesday, extended Vaze’s custody with the investigation agency till April 9.
Representing the NIA and CBI, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh claimed that Vaze had given Rs 40 lakh and Rs 36 lakh cash to an accomplice in the past few months, Live Law reported.
“We need to investigate from where the accused had arranged this money and whether it was part of any extortion made by him for himself or others,” Singh told the court. “How can a police officer of API rank have such a huge amount?”
He also sought CBI custody of Vaze to question him on the matter. Vaze’s lawyer Aabad Ponda did not oppose either of the pleas. “It is in my interest to stay in their custody,” Ponda said. “I want to cooperate with the CBI as I have done with the NIA.”