Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking direction for an immediate 'unbiased, uninfluenced, impartial and fair' Central Bureau of Investigation probe into Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh's alleged corrupt malpractices.
Singh, a 1988 batch Indian Police Service officer, also sought quashing of the order transferring him as police commissioner, alleging it to be 'arbitrary' and 'illegal'.
As interim relief, Singh sought stay of the operation of his transfer order and direction to the state government, the Centre and the CBI to immediately take in its custody the CCTV footage from Deshmukh's residence.
'The petitioner has invoked writ jurisdiction of this court to seek unbiased, uninfluenced, impartial and fair investigation in the corrupt malpractices of Anil Deshmukh, the home minister of government of Maharashtra, before the evidences are destroyed,' Singh said in his plea.
'Deshmukh had been holding 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 had instructed them that he had a target to accumulate Rs 100 crore every month and had directed to collect money from various establishments and other sources,' Singh alleged.
It is reliably learnt, Singh alleged, that on or about August 24-25, 2020, Rashmi Shukla, commissioner, intelligence, state intelligence department, had brought to the notice of the director general of police, who in turn brought it to the knowledge of the state's additional chief secretary, home department, about corrupt malpractices in postings/transfers by Deshmukh based on telephonic interception.
'She was shunted out rather than taking any firm action against said Anil Deshmukh,' Singh said.
Deshmukh had been interfering in various investigations and was instructing the police officers to conduct the same in a particular manner as desired by him, Singh added.
'Such act of Deshmukh in abuse of the official position of the home minister, whether in calling and directly instructing the police officers of lower rank such as Vaze or Patil for his malicious intent of extorting money from establishments across Mumbai and from other sources or whether in interfering in the investigations and directing the same to be conducted in a particular manner, or whether indulging in corrupt malpractices in posting/transfers of officers, cannot be countenanced or justified in any democratic State,' Singh said.
Fair CBI investigation is thus warranted in each of such acts of Deshmukh in abuse of the home minister's official position, Singh said, and added that he has brought the corrupt practices in the knowledge of senior leaders and the chief minister of the state immediately.
On March 17, by a notification of the Maharashtra government, he was transferred from the post of police commissioner of Mumbai to the home guard department in an 'arbitrary and illegal manner without the completion of the minimum fixed tenure of two years,' Singh stated.
'The said transfer was maliciously effected purportedly under Section 22 N(2) of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951 with the reason that the transfer was necessitated by administrative exigencies,' he said in his plea.
The senior police officer further said it is a settled law that the orders have to stand on the reasons contained in the same and no reasons can be supplemented later.
Referring to the February 25-26 incident near Antilia, businessman Mukesh Ambani's home, where a car with explosives was found leading to a bomb scare, Singh said he believes that the reason for the transfer noted by the state government in its file is to ensure a free and fair investigation in the case.
The said case is being now investigated by the National Investigation Agency, he said, and Sachin Vaze, an officer of the Crime Intelligence Unit, Mumbai police, has been arrested for custodial interrogation by NIA.
'All necessary assistance had been rendered by petitioner's office and his officers for the conduct of a free and fair investigation by the ATS and the NIA into the Antilia incident. It is not even the case of the NIA that the petitioner had in any manner obstructed in free and fair investigation by NIA,' he said.
Singh said such a transfer in the said circumstances is for reasons 'smeared with malice', when there is no iota of material or evidence -- far from proof -- found or even imputed against him and is solely based on conjecture, surmise and pure speculation.
Having made such startling revelations he apprehends further malicious and coercive actions at the instance of 'disgruntled home minister in abuse of his powers'.
Deshmukh, he said, while mechanically denying the contents of the letter dated March 20, submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has issued a press release threatening to initiate defamation proceedings against him.
Singh sought directions to safeguard him from any further coercive steps apprehended in the retaliation for laying bare Deshmukh's alleged corrupt malpractices.