The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh to approach the Bombay high court with his plea for a CBI probe against Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh for allegedly running a “money collection scheme” through the police department.
A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R Subhas Reddy noted in its order that the issue was “serious” since it related to administration at large, but added that the high court was a more appropriate forum for deciding the issue.
The bench was emphatic that Singh should have approached the high court first since his request for a CBI probe could also be allowed by the high court.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Singh, then opted to withdraw the petition and said he would approach the high court in the afternoon today, seeking a hearing on Thursday.
On Rohatgi’s request, the court also included Deshmukh and National Investigation Agency (NIA) as parties to Singh’s petition.
Singh, who was shunted out over the case of explosives being found in an abandoned SUV outside billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s residence, Antilia, and the subsequent arrest of suspended police officer Sachin Vaze in the case, had filed a writ petition in the top court on Monday.
In his plea, Singh claimed that he was transferred to a low-key post in Mumbai Police’s Home Guards by an order on March 17 “immediately” after he brought the corrupt practices of Deshmukh to the knowledge of Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and some other senior leaders in the state government.
“The petitioner has invoked writ jurisdiction of this Hon’ble Court to seek unbiased, uninfluenced, impartial and fair investigation in the corrupt malpractices of Shri Anil Deshmukh, the Hon’ble Home Minister of Government of Maharashtra, before the evidence are destroyed,” said the petition, filed through advocate Abhinay.
It contended that NCP leader Deshmukh held various meetings in February 2021 at his residence with police officers, including Sachin Vaze of Crime Intelligence Unit, Mumbai and Sanjay Patil, ACP (Social Service Branch), Mumbai, bypassing their seniors, and asked them to collect ₹100 crore every month from establishments such as bars, hookah parlours, restaurants.
Singh also submitted that he was being made a “scapegoat to divert attention” from the Antilla case, highlighting that while there were vertically five officers between him and Vaze, Deshmukh was the one meeting Vaze at his residence.
In that case, now being investigated by the NIA, Vaze has already been arrested. The state ATS has also named Vaze the main accused in the death of Mansukh Hiran who was in possession of the SUV found with the explosives, but reported it stolen a few days before the incident.