Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Thursday signed on the file to suspend former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh, pending a departmental inquiry against him.
Thackeray signed the file on his first official day at work after being discharged from a south Mumbai hospital following a cervical spine surgery last month.
“Orders have been issued to the Director General of Police (Sanjay Pandey) to serve the notice to Param Bir Singh. The suspension is pending departmental inquiry for prolonged, unauthorised absence from work,” a source from the Chief Minister’s Office told ThePrint.
A senior CMO official added that the file was for a departmental inquiry against Param Bir Singh, for unauthorised absence.
“The suspension in itself is not a punishment. Sometimes, suspension is done to ensure that someone against whom you are starting an inquiry is not influencing that inquiry, so the suspension spin came subsequently,” the official told ThePrint.
Singh, a 1988-batch IPS officer, was shunted out as Mumbai’s commissioner of police in March after alleged lapses in the probe into the recovery of explosives outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai home, Antilia. He was transferred as Director General, Home Guards.
Soon after his suspension in March, Singh wrote a letter to CM Thackeray, alleging that then-Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh had directed his officers, including now-dismissed assistant sub-inspector Sachin Waze, to extort Rs 100 crore a month from Mumbai’s bars and restaurants.
Deshmukh resigned in April and the charges of extortion and corruption against him are being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.
Untraceable for months
Singh went on a medical leave on 4 May, and was untraceable until late last month, when he returned to Mumbai.
In the months after Singh’s disappearance, the Mumbai and Thane Police filed multiple cases of extortion and corruption against the IPS officer. In three of these cases, Singh also faced non-bailable warrants due to his prolonged absence despite multiple summons.
However, two of these warrants have been rolled back ever since he returned to Mumbai. A Mumbai court Thursday also cancelled an order declaring Singh to be a proclaimed offender in connection with one of the extortion cases after he returned to Mumbai and joined the investigation.
A plan for a departmental inquiry against Param Bir Singh was initiated in September by DGP Pandey. He sent a proposal to the state home department to also suspend 24 other officers also booked for extortion charges in the cases against the former Mumbai Police chief.
However, the home department sent the file back, asking for an elaboration on the specific roles of each of these officers.
The DGP sent the file back in November, listing charges against Singh and one more Deputy Commissioner of Police as grounds for suspension.
A one-member panel under senior IAS officer Debashish Chakraborty also recommended a departmental inquiry against Singh.
While the home department, now led by minister Dilip Walse Patil of the Nationalist Congress Party, cleared the file last month, it needed the signature of CM Thackeray, who was hospitalised for spine surgery.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)