The CBI has called former Maharashtra Home minister Anil Deshmukh for questioning on Wednesday (April 14) in connection with corruption allegations against him. Deshmukh had on April 5 resigned from the post after the Bombay High Court directed the central probe agency to conduct preliminary investigation into allegations of Rs 100 crore extrotion levelled against him by former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh.
Singh had set off a major row when he alleged that Deshmukh had asked suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze, who has been arrested in the SUV case, to collect Rs 100 crore from Mumbai's restaurants, bars and hookah bars. Singh, who was transferred to the low-key Home Guards on March 17 following the arrest of Vaze in the Antilia case, in a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had claimed that he was made a scapegoat. In the eight-page letter, Singh had alleged that Deshmukh used to call police officers to his official residence and give them a "collection target" from bars, restaurants and other establishments.
Allegations of Singh against Deshmukh and the Sachin Vaze episode have dented the image of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state. Vaze was arrested by the NIA, which is probing the recovery of an explosives-laden vehicle from outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani last month and also the alleged murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, the purported owner of that SUV.
Earlier on Sunday, the CBI questioned two personal staffers of Deshmukh in connection with the case. Deshmukh's personal assistant Kundan Shinde and personal secretary Sanjeev Palande were asked to appear before the CBI team in connection with its ongoing preliminary enquiry into the case. They were questioned by the CBI at the DRDO guest house in suburban Santacruz.
The agency has so recorded statements of Param Bir Singh, currently posted as the Director General of state Home Guards, Sachin Waze, DCP Raju Bhujbal, ACP Sanjay Patil, advocate Jayshree Patil, a petitioner, and hotel owner Mahesh Shetty.
Anil Deshmukh, who has denied the corruption allegations, resigned from Uddhav Thackery's Cabinet on April 5 after the High Court's order.