Updated: March 31, 2021 1:18:36 pm
Ten days after the former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh levelled allegations of corruption against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday set up a high-level inquiry committee comprising a retired judge of the Bombay High Court to probe the claims.
The Thackeray-led general administration department issued an order stating that the inquiry committee would be headed by retired judge Kailash Uttamchand Chandiwal, who has been given six months to submit a report to the government.
Three days after he was removed as the Mumbai Police commissioner and posted to the Home Guards in the wake of the Ambani house bomb scare case, Singh had written to Thackeray on March 20 alleging that Deshmukh had asked Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze – later arrested by the NIA in the bomb scare case – to collect Rs 100 crore every month, including Rs 40 to Rs 50 crore from around 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
Singh had also alleged the role of the officials from Deshmukh’s office in the collection.
The scope of the inquiry includes finding whether there is evidence in Singh’s letter to conclude that any misconduct or crime has been committed by Deshmukh or any official in his office. The committee will further recommend whether an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau or any other investigating agency is required against Deshmukh and his officials on allegations levelled by Singh, based on purported information received from Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjay Patil and Sachin Waze.
The order also stated that the committee can make any other “useful recommendations pertaining to the matter”.
While Deshmukh has denied the allegations, the government had decided last week to conduct a judicial probe in the matter in a meeting between the CM as well as Congress and NCP ministers. Earlier, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had demanded a probe by former Mumbai Police commissioner Julio Riberio, who had refused the offer.
Singh in his letter to Thackeray had reproduced his WhatsApp conversation with the police officers to back his allegations of an extortion target given by Deshmukh and his officials to the police. He had also claimed that he had briefed the CM about “several misdeeds and malpractices being indulged into by the Hon’ble Home Minister” and similarly briefed the Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar.
The entire episode has caused a crisis in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, which was already under attack from the Opposition over the mishandling of the Ambani home bomb scare case. The NIA is probing the alleged role of Waze, who was arrested on March 13, in parking an explosives-laden vehicle outside Ambani’s south Mumbai residence on February 25 and in the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, who purportedly owned that vehicle.
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