Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh today said the corruption allegations against him by former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh will be investigated by a retired judge. On Thursday, Mr Deshmukh had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking an inquiry into the allegations against him which has triggered a political storm.
The state’s ruling alliance has landed in controversy after Param Bir Singh — replaced as Mumbai Police Commissioner over “unforgivable” lapses in the Mukesh Ambani security scare probe — accused Mr Deshmukh of corruption and interference in police work. The BJP had sought his removal.
Mr Deshmukh, a minister from Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party — has denied the charges and said he will sue Mr Singh for defamation. Ruling out the possibility off his resignation, Mr Pawar had said Mr Deshmukh was ailing and in hospital at the time he was allegedly discussing a Rs 100 crore extortion racket with police officers.
Mr Pawar had also said the allegations were meant to divert focus from the investigation into the case involving the detection of an explosives-filled vehicle found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house.
But on Tuesday, a day after Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched attacked him over allegations of extorting money for police transfers to positions of power, Mr Deshmukh met the Chief Minister.
The next day, in a Marathi tweet, he said: “I have asked the Chief Minister to inquire into the allegations made against me by (former Police Commissioner of Mumbai) Param Bir Singh to bring out the truth.”
Today, he told reporters that the Chief Minister will order a judicial inquiry. “Maharashtra Chief Minister has decided that the allegations levelled against me by former Mumbai Police Commissioner will be probed by a retired high court judge,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI today.
In a letter to Uddhav Thackeray, Param Bir Singh has accused Mr Deshmukh of “malpractices”. The minister, he wrote, had appointed several of his officers – including Sachin Vaze who has been arrested in the Mukesh Ambani case – to run an extortion racket, giving them a target of Rs 100 crore a month.
Following this, a delegation of BJP leaders led by former Maharastra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met the Governor on Wednesday, asking him to seek a report from Mr Thackeray on the issue.