Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh on Saturday claimed that Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh wanted police officers to collect at least Rs 100 crore from bars and hotels every month, a charge which Deshmukh has denied. The senior IPS officer Singh, who was transferred to the low-key Home Guards earlier this week following the arrest of police officer Sachin Waze in the case related to the bomb scare near Mukesh Ambani's house, claimed that he was made a scapegoat.
Deshmukh said in a statement that the allegations were false and part of a conspiracy by Singh to save himself and malign the image of the MVA government.
In an eight-page letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Singh alleged that Deshmukh used to call police officers to his official residence and give them a "collection target" from bars, restaurants and other establishments.
The unsigned letter sent by the former Mumbai police commissioner to the chief minister, was being "verified", an official statement said on Saturday night.
"An unsigned letter in the name of Param Bir Singh, commandant general of Home Guards" was received on the official email ID of the chief minister's secretariat in the afternoon, the Chief Minister's Office said.
The email ID from where the letter was sent was being verified and the state home department was trying to contact Singh, the statement said.
The verification was needed as Singh's email id in the official record was different, it said.
Terming the former Mumbai police chiefâ€™s claims as serious, former IPS officer P K Jain on Saturday said an offence should be registered against the minister under the anti-corruption Act.
"To my mind an offence under the anti-corruption Act should be registered right away. Deshmukh has no right to continue in his position because if Param Bir Singh can be removed from his position for carrying out a fair probe, then I think by the same analogy the minister has no business to continue in his position," Jain said.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) under court supervision should probe this matter, Jain told PTI.
"Whether the charges are true or false is a different matter altogether," Jain said, adding police are always "under the thumb" of their political masters.
"Any officer who is liked by them is given plum postings. When I say plum posting they are all field postings, the 'desirable' postings. Any officer who does not listen to them, who does not tow their line, is always thrown on the sidelines," Jain said.
A 1981-batch IPS officer, Jain was the secretary of the Maharashtra State IPS Officers' Association and served as principal secretary (home), joint commissioner (admin) of Mumbai police, managing director of Maharashtra State Security Corporation, and also as ADG (special operations).
"I can vouch and say with authority that none of the politicians is interested in the police reforms. Nobody wants the police to be independent. Everybody wants the police to be under their thumb to carry out their wishes - in terms of arrests, in terms of enforcement, in terms of doing whatever they want to do, in terms of collections," Jain said.
He said Singh in his letter has given specific examples. "He is giving specific dates and persons who were present in such a meeting when the money was demanded. Singh is a serving officer. If he has leveled charges in writing, it is serious."
"And obviously he would be having some order or some material to back up his claims, which he will come out with at the right time. So, I think the situation has come down to a level where it is a slap on the face of the Maharashtra government," Jain said.
He said Singh mentioned in the letter that he brought this issue (Rs 100 crore demand) to the notice of the chief minister. "He brought it to the notice of the deputy chief minister. He also brought it to the notice of the NCP supremo," Jain added.
"But yes, if extortion was being done on his behalf and on behalf of the minister and he was keeping quiet, I think he (Singh) is also a party. But I think this is all a matter of investigation," he said.
"In the meantime, we should not forget that the basic picture of the gelatin being planted outside Ambani's house and the probe into that was pointing to a different party and a different line altogether," Jain said.