Mumbai: Dismissed Mumbai cop Sachin Waze Wednesday admitted to meeting former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh’s private secretary Sanjeev Palande, but said the latter had not made any demand for money. Waze was appearing before a judicial commission inquiring into extortion allegations made by former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh against Deshmukh.
Through his advocate, Waze also told the judicial commission that he is contemplating submitting an application that the inquiry should cease, following its own terms of reference. This is on the basis of Singh’s statement, made through his lawyer, that his allegations were based on “hearsay”.
Waze was cross-examined before the one-person Chandiwal Commission Tuesday and by Palande’s lawyer, Shekhar Jagtap, Wednesday. The commission was set up under retired Justice K.U. Chandiwal by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to probe Singh’s claims that Deshmukh gave orders to Mumbai Police officers, including Waze, to extort money from Mumbai’s bars and restaurants when he was home minister. Singh had made the allegations in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in March this year.
According to Singh’s letter, Deshmukh called Waze around mid-February and thereafter, telling him that he had a target of collecting Rs 100 crore a month. The letter said a couple of staff members and Deshmukh’s personal secretary, Palande, were also present.
A state government official who is close to the Commission’s proceedings, but was not present at the hearing, told ThePrint, “During the cross-examination, Waze said he knew Palande as PA to the state home minister and did not have any personal acquaintance with him at any point of time. He admitted to meeting Palande in February 2021, but denied that there was any demand or communication for any money for any reason.”
Deshmukh resigned as home minister in April following the controversy. The Enforcement Directorate arrested him in November on charges of money laundering in connection with the case, and he is currently in judicial custody.
‘Hearsay received from subordinates’
Separately Waze’s advocate, Yogesh Naidu, said Tuesday on his client’s instructions that he was contemplating putting in an application to stop the inquiry. This is because Singh through his lawyer made a “categorical statement of his narration in the letter dated 20th March, 2021” that his allegations against Deshmukh were based on “hearsay”. This amounts to “admission, and therefore warrants cessation of (the) entire inquiry in tune with the terms of reference,” according to court records.
This was after Naidu’s first application, which asked for further cross-examination of Waze to be deferred until Singh appeared before the commission, was rejected Tuesday.
This was rejected after Singh’s lawyer, Abhinav Chandrachud, said the source for everything Singh had said in his March 2021 letter to the chief minister was information received from his subordinates, and that is why he does not wish to appear as a witness.
“It was all hearsay received from his officer in the situation. I do not see any hitch in proceeding with the evidence of Shri Sachin Waze,” Singh’s counsel said according to court records.
ThePrint had reported that Singh made a submission before the Chandiwal Commission in October, saying that he neither wanted to show any evidence, nor did he want any cross-examination.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)