Friday, January 28News That Matters

Maharashtra mess

THE scenario in Maharashtra has been described by the Supreme Court as ‘very disturbing’, with former Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh having no faith in his own force and the state government casting aspersions on the CBI. The premier investigating agency, in turn, has told the apex court that the Maharashtra government is creating stumbling blocks to impede the ongoing probe against the state’s former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. The court, which had granted relief to Param Bir in November last year by directing the state police not to arrest him in criminal cases lodged against him, has now refused to extend such protection to him.

The chronology of events needs to be closely scrutinised. Param Bir was removed as Mumbai Police Commissioner in March 2021 over alleged mishandling of the probe into the recovery of an explosives-laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house. Subsequently, he shot off a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleging that Deshmukh used to set extortion targets for police officers. Deshmukh quit his ministerial post in April, shortly after the Bombay High Court ordered a CBI probe into the allegations of corruption levelled by Param Bir. A key player in this sordid saga is ‘encounter specialist’ Sachin Waze, an accused in the SUV case and the subsequent murder of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran. Waze had been reinstated by the Maharashtra police in 2020, over a decade after the tainted assistant inspector submitted his resignation.

The goings-on in Maharashtra have brought into sharp focus the politician-police-criminal nexus. The Supreme Court is bang on about nobody being holier-than-thou in this whole scenario: ‘When things go fine everybody gets along, when things don’t go fine everybody is getting at each other.’ Even as the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government has repeatedly been at loggerheads with the BJP-ruled Centre, political considerations should not be allowed to influence the investigation into the allegations against both Deshmukh and Param Bir. At stake here is the credibility of the law enforcement and investigative agencies.

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