Mumbai police commissioner Sanjay Pandey was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for more than six hours in connection with the corruption case registered against former home minister Anil Deshmukh.
The central agency interrogated Pandey, the then Director General of Police, for allegedly trying to influence the complainant in the case – former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh while the matter was being heard in the Bombay High Court, said a CBI officer.
The CBI officer said it was evident from Pandey’s interaction with Singh that the Maharashtra government was trying to protect Anil Deshmukh from the serious allegations of corruption.
The officer added that they recorded Pandey’s statement, not about the allegations of corruption, but about his conversation with Singh, transcripts of which show that Pandey had advised Singh to consider withdrawing the letter written by him to the chief minister and other dignitaries on March 20, 2021.
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ln a letter written to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on March 20, Singh alleged that Deshmukh had instructed certain Mumbai police officers, including dismissed API Sachin Vaze, to collect an amount of Rs 100 crores every month from Mumbai’s restaurants and bars.
On April 21 last year, CBI registered an offence against Deshmukh based on the allegations made by Singh. Subsequently, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also registered a money laundering case against Deshmukh, his son Hrishikesh and others.
In statements given to the Enforcement Directorate, Vaze claimed that he had called bar owners meeting on Deshmukh’s instructions. Between December 2020 and February 2021 collected Rs 4.7 crores from the owners of so-called orchestra bars in Mumbai to avoid police interference. He added that he had handed over the “extorted money” in two instalments to Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde.
Later, after the Maharashtra government-initiated inquiries against Singh, Pandey had in a WhatsApp chat, asked Singh to withdraw the March 20 letter he wrote to several dignitaries, levelling allegations of corruption against him Deshmukh.