Express News Service

MUMBAI:   The CBI on Sunday registered an FIR against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in connection with an extortion case though the investigating officer of the bureau in a preliminary investigation gave a clean chit to Deshmukh.

Former Maharashtra police chief Param Bir Singh had accused Deshmukh of directing a police officer to collect over Rs 100 crore from bars in Mumbai every month.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government raised questions over the functioning of the Central probe agency and said the actions against Anil Deshmukh were political vendetta.

NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said the Bombay High Court had asked the CBI to conduct a preliminary probe into the allegations made by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh and submit a report.

“However, the Investigation Officer (IO) of CBI conducted the probe, and he, in his report stated that there is no evidence against Anil Deshmukh and he had not committed any cognisable offence. He asked the closing the probe. But the senior officers of the CBI who under political influence overruled the IO probe and filed the FIR against the Deshmukh. It means that this is a political case to the High court should intervene and close the probe against the former minister of Maharashtra,” Malik added.

The CBI released a statement saying the FIR has been filed so that the probe can be continued.

Sachin Sawant, Maharashtra Congress spokesperson demanded a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry to find out at whose behest the CBI changed its stand by overruling IO report.

“The High Court had only asked to conduct the preliminary probe, but CBI misguided the court over the probe and filed the FIR against Deshmukh. This major crime is done by the CBI, therefore Union minister home minister Amit Shah must take responsibility for the misuse of Central probe agency and should step down,” Sawant said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra transport minister, Anil Parab was on Sunday hit with an Enforcement Directorate (ED) notice in connection with a money laundering case. It comes days after he was caught on camera directing the police to arrest BJP leader and Union minister Narayan Rane.

Parab, 56, is also a minister of parliamentary affairs in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and is a three-term member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.

Officials said he has been asked by the ED to depose before the investigating officer of the case at the agency’s office in south Mumbai on Tuesday.

They said Parab is to be questioned in the money laundering case being investigated against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh after certain “disclosures” have been made by other accused and those involved in the case.

Reacting to the summon, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the ED notice to Parab was “expected” and the party would fight it legally.

“Well done. As soon as the Jan Ashirwad Yatra concluded, Anil Parab has been served ED notice as expected. The central government has begun its work. The epicentre of the earthquake was Ratnagiri. Parab is the district guardian minister. Understand the chronology. Will fight legal battle legally. Jai Maharashtra,” Raut tweeted.

Union minister Rane was recently arrested from Ratnagiri for his comment that he would have “slapped” CM Thackeray.

Rane, a bete noire of both Shiv Sena and Thackeray, had made the remark during his Jan Ashirwad Yatra.

The latest summons pertain to the criminal investigation being carried out by the ED in the alleged Rs 100 crore bribery-cum-extortion racket in the Maharashtra police establishment that led to Deshmukh’s resignation in April.

The ED case against Deshmukh, who was earlier the home minister in the MVA government, and others came after the CBI booked him in the corruption case related to allegations of at least Rs 100 crore bribe made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

Deshmukh, who had skipped ED summons at least five times till now, had said that Singh made the allegations against him after he was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner.

The ED may question Parab about the statements it has twice recorded of jailed police officer and another accused in this case, Sachin Waze.

Waze was arrested by the NIA in the case of recovery of an explosives-laden SUV from near the Mumbai house of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.

Waze had earlier alleged in a letter he sought to submit before a court that in January 2021, Parab asked him to look into an inquiry against “fraudulent” contractors listed in the Mumbai civic body and “collect” at least Rs 2 crore from about 50 such contractors.

Parab had then rejected Waze’s claims and had said he was ready to face any probe into the allegations.

(With PTI Inputs)