Published On: Sun, Mar 21st, 2021
Top News | ByIANS

SUV case: SC monitored probe can answer key questions, say former top cops

New Delhi: As several key questions remain unanswered in the SUV case related to the explosives-laden Scorpio parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai last month, former police chiefs have suggested that in the interest of justice, a Supreme Court monitored probe is necessary to investigate the police-criminal-politician nexus, which ostensibly exists in India’s commercial capital.

Vigilance agencies of the state have their limitations

As the case snowballs into a huge political controversy that could upset the equations in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, several former DGPs have suggested that it would be better if the probe is handed over to a senior officer of high integrity, monitored by the apex court, instead of a state or Central agency.

“As relations between the BJP and the Shiv Sena are at loggerheads, the state agency (Anti-Terrorism Squad) and the Central agency (National Investigation Agency) cannot work in close coordination. In a situation where the relations between the state and the Centre have turned sour, a Supreme court monitored probe remains the only option to ensure a free and fair enquiry,” said celebrated police officer Prakash Singh, considered as the key architect of police reforms in India.

Voicing the concern of the IPS fraternity, Singh, the former DGP of BSF in Uttar Pradesh and Assam, said that when a Home Minister (Anil Deshmukh) has been accused by his former Commissioner (Param Bir Singh) for exploiting policemen to extort money from businessmen and industrialists, it becomes clear that the rule of law in the state is being blatantly abused by those in power.

“We do not know the entire details and the breakup of the monthly collections of Rs 100 crore, as alleged in the former Commissioner’s letter. But it seems that a large amount of the extortion money was going to the party, the minister concerned, and a percentage could as well be pocketed by the police. Now the question is whether the Chief Minister was involved in the extortion racket, or he just failed to take action,” said Singh, the Chairman of the Indian Police Foundation and Institute.

In a sensational twist to the SUV case on Saturday, Param Bir Singh hit out at Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by virtually alleging that the minister wanted his team member, arrested cop Sachin Vaze, to ‘collect’ Rs 100 crore per month from bars and hookah parlours.

On the role of suspended Assistant Police Inspector (API) Sachin Vaze in hatching the plot to scare the country’s richest businessman, another celebrated cop and former DGP of Uttar Pradesh, O.P. Singh, said that an API level officer is too junior to execute a plot at the behest of the state’s Home Minister.

“The question is how an API level policeman got access to the Home Minister? Moreover, when Vaze bypassed the police hierarchy to report directly to the Home Minister, what were his seniors doing? The supervisory officers should have intervened,” said O.P. Singh, a 1983 batch IPS officer of UP cadre.

When asked how despite objections by previous Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Vaze was reinstated by incumbent Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, O.P. Singh said that an enquiry should be initiated to ascertain the motive of reinstating Vaze and posting him at such an important place (Mumbai Crime Branch).

“What makes me wonder is the fact that though Vaze was Shiv Sena’s man, how did he enter into a conspiracy with the Home Minister who comes from another party (NCP). Was Vaze working for both the Shiv Sena and the NCP, or was there a tacit understanding between both the parties to back Vaze’s extortion racket,” asked O.P. Singh, known for his proactive role against top underworld gangs of Uttar Pradesh.

On giving unlimited power to an API rank officer like Vaze, former BSF DG and Joint Director in CBI, Rajnikant Mishra, said that such blunders do happen when a police officer is asked to do extra-legal work on behalf of the ruling party.

“When subordinates deviate from their prescribed charter of work and indulge in such activities (extortion), they often cross the limits. Vaze deviated from the given standard operating procedure (SOP) and got involved in all sorts of work (criminal activity). The question is who was at a much bigger fault, Vaze or his masters,” asked Mishra, who investigated several high-profile cases of political corruption during his tenure in the CBI.

Why did the vigilance and anti-corruption wing of the Maharashtra government turn a blind eye on Vaze’s nefarious operations?

On this question, Mishra said: “Vigilance agencies of the state have their limitations. They do not have the infrastructure and liberty of initiating suo-moto action against corrupt officials in the CBI or the ED. State intelligence agencies also do not have the mandate and resources that the IB at the Centre has in keeping a tab on such shady operations. The system has to be thoroughly reviewed and sorted out.”

The police fraternity also fails to understand the motive of scaring the country’s top business house.

“Was the motive of planting an explosives-laden SUV (near Antilia) to threaten the Ambanis or was it related to extortion or maybe something more vicious? Besides this, the plot to plant the explosives was hatched by Vaze or some higher ups were also involved, including the state’s Home Minister? These questions beg for an answer… and the answer must be backed by evidence,” said O.P. Singh, who led several central police organisations.

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