Mumbai: None of the 20-odd people whose statements the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recorded — except IPS officer Param Bir Singh and suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Waze — have corroborated the graft allegations against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, according to a preliminary enquiry report purportedly drafted by the investigative agency.
While the 65-page report said “no cognizable offence has been made out” against Deshmukh, it gave a number of details about Waze allegedly extorting money from Mumbai’s bars, checking into a five-star under an assumed identity with a cash-counting machine, and his general affluence.
The unsigned preliminary enquiry report, supposedly drafted by R.S. Gunjyal, Deputy Superintendent of Police, CBI, was leaked last week. ThePrint has seen the report.
“The preliminary enquiry has revealed that Sachin Waze, API was involved in illegal collection of money from orchestra bar/hukka bar owners and owners of other establishments in Mumbai on the pretext of allowing them extended working hours till late night and not conducting raids on them. It is not clear whether he was collecting this money for his own benefit or for any others…” the purported CBI report concluded.
“The enquiry conducted has revealed that no cognizable offence has been committed by Sh. Anil Deshmukh, the then HM, Govt of Maharashtra. In view of the above, it is recommended that this PE (preliminary enquiry) be closed,” it added.
In a statement to the media, the CBI has not disowned the leaked report in so many words, but maintained that the case registered against Deshmukh is based on evidence collected during the preliminary enquiry.
“It may be recalled that the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature at Bombay had ordered the registration of a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) in the said matter based on several PILs filed before the Hon’ble High Court. On completion of this PE, the competent authority directed registration of a regular case based on evidence collected during PE and the legal opinion. The FIR registered by CBI on 21.04.2021 has been available on CBI website since 24.04.2021,” the agency said in its statement.
In a letter dated 20 March to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had alleged that Deshmukh had instructed his officers, including Waze, to collect Rs 100 crore from Mumbai’s bars and restaurants every month.
In April, the Bombay High Court ordered a preliminary CBI probe while hearing a petition of advocate Jayashre Patil on the issue, prompting Deshmukh, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, to tender his resignation as a minister.
‘Waze was living lavish life from ill-gotten money’
According to the leaked report, the CBI purportedly examined a number of witnesses such as DCP Raju Bhujbal, ACP Sanjay Patil, Deshmukh’s personal secretary Sanjeev Palande, advocate Patil, four orchestra bar owners, three police constables who have worked with Waze, his private driver and so on, as well as collected technical evidence.
None of them made any statements to support extortion allegations against Deshmukh.
However, ACP Patil and the orchestra bar owners allegedly told the CBI during interrogation that Waze had called them for two meetings mid-December in his fourth-floor office inside the building of the Office of the Commissioner of Police.
According to Patil’s purported statement, the ACP did not know the orchestra bar owners, and Waze informed him that he had proposed categorising them into three brackets — large, medium and small — to work out a monthly payment to police.
The purported CBI report revealed that Patil said he did not want anything to do with the alleged extortion plan.
According to the purported statement given by Mahesh Kumar Shetty, who runs a bar and restaurant at Borivali, Waze had asked bars to pay Rs 3 lakh a month for bigger establishments, Rs 2 lakh for medium-range establishments and Rs 1 lakh for smaller establishments. Waze also allegedly wanted to be kept informed about any establishment not willing to pay the sum.
In the second meeting, Shetty is believed to have said, Waze asked the bar owners to collect Rs 40 lakh as “shagun (good omen)” in advance.
The purported report said Shetty along with fellow bar owners Jaya Pujari and Sharad Shetty handed over the first instalment of Rs 27 lakh to Waze, who had come in a black Mercedes, outside Hotel Regency in Thane.
Around mid-January, the three allegedly met Waze again near the parking area of Hotel Intercontinental on Marine Drive at about 9 pm when Shetty’s driver purportedly kept a black bag containing Rs 86 lakh with a list of contributing bars in Waze’s car. More money exchanged hands in the coming days, the report detailed.
It further said, as part of the technical evidence collected, the CBI found that Waze had intermittently stayed at the Trident Hotel in November and December 2020, and Hotel Oberoi in January and February 2021. Both hotels belong to the same group.
Waze allegedly stayed at Hotel Oberoi for 24 days from 19 January to 20 February this year, under the name of Sushant Khamkar. The total bill was Rs 2.56 lakh, of which he paid Rs 49,642 in cash and the rest through a travel agency, Classic Travel Shoppe Pvt. Ltd.
At Trident, Waze allegedly stayed for 23 days from 14 November to 19 December 2020, and paid the entire bill of Rs 1.44 lakh in cash.
The report said the chief security officer at Oberoi informed the CBI that one of the bags of the person who checked in as Khamkar had a cash-counting machine, and another had bundles of paper that “appeared to be cash bundles”.
The report also gave a detailed count of the number of luxurious cars that Waze allegedly had, according to statements of his personal driver, Prakash Dhanure.
The Mumbai Police suspended Waze the first time in 2004 on charges of murder and destroying evidence in the Khwaja Yunus case, and reinstated him in 2020 after Singh took over as Mumbai police chief.
According to Dhanure’s statement, before his reinstatement, Waze had two second-hand Mitsubishi Outlanders. In the four or five months after being reinstated, he allegedly bought several more second-hand cars, including Mercedes, BMW and Prado Land Cruiser.
The purported CBI report said it is evident that Waze was “living a lavish life from the ill-gotten money as he was using high-end luxury cars like Mercedes Benz, Prado etc even to commute for official purposes”.
‘No proof of non-official meeting between Waze and Deshmukh’
In his letter to Thackeray, Param Bir Singh particularly mentioned DCP Raju Bhujbal and ACP Sanjay Patil as having received instructions from Deshmukh’s office to collect money from Mumbai’s bars and restaurants.
The CBI’s purported inquiry report said Patil and Bhujbal “confirmed in their statements that no such demand for any collection of money was ever made by the then HM or through his PS (personal secretary) Sanjeev Palande”.
As mentioned in the report, Waze, during his brief examination by the CBI, allegedly said, “I once gave Rs 4 crore to one Kundan, PA of the then Home Minister Shri Anil Deshmukh in around last days of February/or early days of March. Shri Anil Deshmukh himself demanded the money from me (sic)”.
The report, however, concluded: “There is no proof of any meeting of Sachin Waze with the then HM residence at his residence apart from only official briefing/purposes and in the presence of other officers”.
Meanwhile, Kundan, during his interrogation by the CBI, allegedly said he doesn’t know why his name came up, and he had not heard anything about Deshmukh asking Waze to collect Rs 3-3.5 lakh from each bar and restaurant per month.
“He (Kundan) further stated that he had never told any such thing to Sh. Sachin Vaze that he should comply the instruction of Sh. Deshmukh, if he wants to keep his job intact and safe (sic),” the purported report said.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)