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Judicial probe into allegations, phone tapping — Uddhav govt’s offensive against Param Bir

Judicial probe will look into allegations in Param Bir Singh's letter, WhatsApp chats & texts he has referred to, officers mentioned in it will be questioned, said a minister.

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Mumbai: To control the damage caused by the controversy surrounding former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh’s explosive letter that accused the state’s home minister of running an extortion racket, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is strategising to be on the offensive.

Far from succumbing to the opposition’s demand asking Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to resign, the three-party government led by Uddhav Thackeray appears to be turning its ire on officials allegedly acting against the government, directing the chief secretary to submit a report on possible “illegal” phone tapping by IPS officer Rashmi Shukla, a senior minister told ThePrint.

It also plans to set up a judicial probe into the contents of Singh’s letter, bringing the IPS officer under the scanner, besides Deshmukh.

The government has taken legal opinion on how to combat Singh’s case in the Bombay High Court too, the minister added.

Two days after his transfer as Mumbai Police chief, Singh had last week sent a letter to CM Thackeray alleging that Deshmukh had directed some of his officers, including Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze, to collect Rs 100 crore from the city’s bars and restaurants. Singh then approached the Supreme Court challenging his transfer and asking for an inquiry into his allegations.

The top court Wednesday said he should approach the Bombay High Court, instead.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis has said he is in possession of one report by IPS officer Rashmi Shukla who “exposed” corruption in transfers and postings. The report, which allegedly names certain officers, politicians and brokers and admits to tapping phones to establish evidence, was submitted to the MVA government in August 2020.


Also read: Unknown email ID, unsigned — Why CMO doubts Mumbai ex-police chief’s letter on home minister


Could not gauge bureaucracy’

In the cabinet meeting Wednesday, first since Singh’s letter, the sentiment largely was that this government had failed to understand the officials it was working with, sources who attended the meeting said.

A few ministers lamented how certain officials could be helping the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and feared their phones being tapped “illegally”, the sources said.

“The CM has asked Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte to submit a report into phone tapping by Shukla. It seems absolutely illegal,” the minister quoted above told ThePrint.

Home Minister Deshmukh, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, also attended the cabinet meeting, though he walked in an hour late. He told his colleagues that he was innocent, the sources said, adding that CM Thackeray appealed to ministers from all the three constituents of the government — the NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress — to stand together in this controversy.

Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) minister Jitendra Awhad went on record to say Shukla was tapping phones illegally.

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Awhad said: “If anyone’s phone has to be tapped, it requires the permission of additional chief secretary, home. When asked if Rashmi Shukla had sought permission to tap this one number to which Kunte saheb (who was then the additional chief secretary, home) has said no. Rashmi Shukla had a bad habit of tapping phones. When this letter came before the government, she had gone and apologised. She said I was wrong and the government being big hearted decided to act mildly.”

He added: “But, this is a big conspiracy to defame the Maharashtra government using the same letter. Permission was taken in the name of one person, phones were tapped of another. And we have grave suspicion that phones of a number of ministers were also tapped. This is breach of right to privacy.”

ThePrint tried to reach Shukla through a phone call and a text message, but she did not respond.


Also read: Uddhav govt to probe home minister Deshmukh & also why Param Bir Singh didn’t act on ‘info’


Judicial probe likely 

Following the state cabinet meeting at Mantralaya, a small group of senior ministers met CM Thackeray at his official residence, Varsha, to decide the strategy on how to deal with and counter Singh’s allegations.

The minister who spoke to the ThePrint requesting anonymity said the state government is likely to set up a judicial probe under the Commission of Inquiry Act that will not only look into Deshmukh and the allegations against him, but also into Param Bir Singh and the letter that he wrote.

“The probe will look at whether everything the letter says is true in the first place, the WhatsApp chats and text conversations that he has referred to… the officers mentioned in it will be called and questioned,” he said.

Late Wednesday night, Deshmukh tweeted a 21 March letter written by him to the CM asking for an inquiry to have “doodh ka doodh and paani ka paani (separate water from the milk).”

“If the CM sets up an inquiry, I will welcome it. Satyameva Jayate,” he posted.

The meeting at Varsha was also attended by Maharashtra Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, who is said to have opined that Singh’s petition challenging his transfer is not maintainable in the Bombay High Court and he should have first approached the Central Administrative Tribunal, state government sources said.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mazumdar)


Also read: Param Bir Singh’s letter maligned Maharashtra home department’s image, says Shiv Sena


 

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12 COMMENTS

  1. If police chasing a criminal, they need not stop at the signal. Traffic violation is a minor offence. Stopping at signal and allowing a criminal to escape is foolishness. You can draw similar anology for tapping phones. Why an innocent need to be afraid if he has nothing to hide?

  2. The new government should have changed the old team in bureaucracy. I hope they have learned their lesson and are willing to act now. Change in top echelons is a must without further delay. Apart from other states cadre, one can also look at retirees, or bored over paid executives, from the private sector.

    Hire people without references willing to put their neck on the line in an environment of trust and authenticity.

    • The newly joining ones will not be answerable to queries on the past decisions.
      IMO the best way it could have been buried

  3. The goons in uniform are in cahoots with their political masters.The collection of money from the hotels, bars ,etc is of course the norm in all places in the country.

  4. Bhadwe apni auqat mein rahe kisko monkey bolra re bhadwe teri bahen ayi tih kya uddhav ji ke pas bhadwa kahin ka. Hosh mein baat kar suar ki nasal.
    Jai MVA

  5. Yes, I reiterate what Sri Gururaj said. The state of mind of Uddhav Thakre is that of a monkey with its hand inside the cookie bottle. It’s story of Alibaba aur Chalis Chor in Maharashtra. This government deserves shunted out and president rule should be imposed, pending elections.

  6. Basic matter is the intrinsically, marathi people are fool with their nose dig into dirt always! You can not expect anything better than what the senior penguin
    Is doing! All these marathi manoos are fake n go down
    to any level for vassoli n chori chapati!!

  7. This CM is a true follower of Buddha by taking his pose when right thinking citizens of the state want him take responsibility for whatever mess his govt has landed due to murky deals of Police officials & the home department under HM.
    No doubt he has the support of the chief Architect veteran Politician who was instrumental in forming the MVA govt.
    Both their images are getting tarnished due to this controversies by they remaining silent.

  8. Moral & ethics have been lost, the people surrounding these Shameless politicians needs to understand. Until such time these things will happen, & people have to SUFFER UNDOUBTEDLY.

  9. Why is The Print trying to defend the indefensible looter, extortionist & terrorists government which is more focussed towards police transfer bribery racket, threatening & extorting businessmen / industrialists / cine artistes / war veterans / journalists in Mumbai. A truth can not be wiped by purchased journalism.

  10. You can trust Indian Politicians to do everything except what is right. Under this situation, as top dog, Uddhav Thackery should have asked Anil Deshmukh’s resignation. If he refused, UT should have advised the governor to dismiss him. He did not do it, because he wants to cling to power. He cannot continue in power without Sharad Power’s blessing. UT is like a moneky with paw in the cookie bottle. The monkey can withdraw the hand stuck inside the cookie bottle, if it drops the cookie. But, the monkey is too greedy to drop the cookie! No use expecting Sharad Power to act in forthright manner. He is the most crooked, manipulative, corrupt and weily politician the country has seen. He is useful to everyone. So he has survived, without going behind the bars.

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