Sources informed Republic TV that the CBI has started questioning former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh’s personal assistants on Sunday
ANI / PTI
In a breaking development in the Vasooligate probe, sources informed Republic TV that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started questioning former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh’s personal assistants on Sunday as it probes the allegations levelled against the NCP leader by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh. CBI questioning the NCP leader’s aides is in connection with the Preliminary Enquiry on former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’s ‘extortion’ charges against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. Earlier on Friday, CBI recorded the statement of a bar owner who allegedly paid “protection money” to suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze on March 3.
CBI begins probe
Earlier this week, CBI recorded the statements of e-Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and suspended API Sachin Vaze after the Bombay HC ordered the CBI to launch a preliminary probe into the allegations levelled against the NCP leader. anil Deshmukh failed to get relief from the Supreme Court as he challenged the Bombay HC order, questioning the credentials of the central agency. The apex court maintained that it would not interfere in the Bombay HC’s ruling ordering a CBI probe. Sachin Vaze, currently lodged at Taloja jail, was sent to judicial custody by the NIA court until April 23 while the CBI was granted access to the suspended API’s ‘extortion diary’.
As per sources, Param Bir Singh reiterated his ‘extortion’ charge against former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh while he recorded his statement with the CBI on Thursday and submitted the messages he received from ACP Patil. Sources added that Param Bir Singh also submitted a few documents and the details of key meetings. Previously, a team of CBI officers had also recorded complainant Jaishri Patil’s statement. Meanwhile, former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma was also summoned by the NIA on Thursday after suspended API Sachin Vaze allegedly named him in his confession. The former cop & Shiv Sena leader was questioned for over seven-and-a-half fours on Wednesday following which he was once again summoned on Thursday.
SC upholds HC order for CBI enquiry
The Supreme Court refused to provide relief to former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday and maintained that it would not interfere with the High Court order directing a CBI probe. Anil Deshmukh had filed a plea at the apex court challenging the Bombay HC’s order while also questioning the credentials of the central agency to probe into the allegations levelled against him by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices SK Kaul and Hemant Gupta heard the matter on Thursday.
Appearing for the Maharashtra government, senior advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that the NCP leader has resigned as the Home Minister making case for a probe by state agencies. Countering Singhvi’s arguments, Justice Gupta pointed out that Deshmukh had not resigned when the Commission of Inquiry was constituted by the State, thereby showing that the NCP leader was ‘clinging’ to the office. Justice Kaul also noted that the allegations are not levelled by Deshmukh’s ‘enemy’ but almost his ‘right-hand man’ as Param Bir Singh was Mumbai’s top cop under the Home Minister.
Appearing for former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Kapil Sibal argued that there was no ‘evidentiary value’ to the accusations levelled by Param Bir Singh. Terming it to be ‘hearsay,’ Sibal said that the accusations are not ‘prima facie reliable and not admissible’. “It will be a sad day in this country if your Lordships will uphold an order like this. Let me go to HC. But, an order like this cannot be passed behind my back,” Sibal argued. Pronouncing the order, Justice Kaul maintained that the SC bench is not inclined towards interfering in the Bombay High Court order.
“Facts are very important. It’s not about a political rival. Here is a very senior officer making allegations about a very senior Minister,” Justice Kaul observed during the hearing.