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Nothing but Sachin Waze’s statement to show corruption case against Anil Deshmukh: Bombay High Court

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The Bombay High Court has granted bail to former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in an alleged corruption case observing that prima facie, there is nothing but the statement of dismissed cop Sachin Vaze – whose tenure as a Police Officer has been “controversial” – to show that money was collected from bar owners at the NCP leader’s behest.

The court has also considered his age, 73 years, and ailments, some of which are classified as “de-generative”.

Justice MS Karnik, in a detailed 16-page judgement which was uploaded late last night, granted bail to Deshmukh in the corruption case registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on furnishing surety of Rs 1 lakh. He has been directed to cooperate with the investigation.

However, the former minister will not be let out immediately as, following a request from the CBI, the said the bail order will be effective after 10 days.

The court noted that as per the prosecution chargesheet, its case is “mainly based on Sachin Waze’s statement”, who has been granted pardon after turned approver. “The question of the reliability of Mr. Sachin Waze’s version is a matter for trial,” observed Justice Karnik, adding: “It is a matter of record that Sachin Waze was suspended for 16 years.”

Waze had claimed that Deshmukh had promised to reinstate him in police service. Post reinstatement, Waze claimed to collect money from bar owners and deliver it to Kundan Shinde, Deshmukh’s former aide, as instructed by Deshmukh. According to Waze, Deshmukh instructed him to collect Rs.3 lakhs each from 1750 Orchestra Bars/Pubs/establishments in Mumbai totalling Rs.40 to Rs.50 crores approximately.

However, the court took note of the ACP Sanjay Patil’s statement, which were pointed out by Deshmukh’s lawyers – senior advocate Vikram Chaudhari and advocate Aniket Nikam. Patil had said that Waze informed him that he is collecting the money for ‘No.1’, and when Patil asked Waze as to who is ‘No.1’, he was informed that it is ‘CP, Mumbai’. CP at the relevant time was Param Bir Singh.

“The statements as they stand, even without testing its veracity, which is a subject matter of trial, creates some doubt as to whose behest the money was collected,” remarked justice Karnik. “I may hasten to add that these are very prima facie observations limited to considering this application for bail.

The court further remarked that “It is a matter of record that Sachin Waze was suspended for 16 years” and that his tenure “as a Police Officer has been controversial”. Waze was arrested for his alleged role in Antilia bomb scare case and murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran. “He is allegedly involved in extortion cases, fake encounter case, etc,” noted HC.

“Except for Mr. Sachin Waze, none of the statements recorded indicate that it was under the instructions of the applicant that the money was to be collected. It is for the trial Court to look for corroboration in material particulars for relying on the statement of Sachin Waze, the approver,” the court averred.

The HC also factored his old age and that he is suffering from multiple ailments, some of which are classified as de-generative.

Justice Karnik observed that while granting him bail in ED case, the HC had remarked: “In the light of the materials on record, it would be audacious to observe that the applicant is not a sick person”.

Deshmukh was arrested in November 2021 by the ED in a money laundering case. In April 2022, the CBI arrested him in a corruption case. He is presently in judicial custody and lodged at the Arthur Road Jain in Mumbai.

The CBI has filed chargesheet on June 2, 2022, with respect to the issue of corruption, the basis being collecting/extorting monies from restaurants and bar owners.However, the two other facets of corruption – the transfers and postings within the police and influencing investigations – are still under investigation. The chargesheet is yet to be filed by the CBI on these aspects.

“Therefore, there is no question of the trial concluding any time soon in the near future. The CBI may proceed with the investigation but not at the cost of continued incarceration of the applicant,” added HC.

Deshmukh is no longer the Home Minister and therefore, there is no question of his influencing the investigation

Also, relying on bail order in ED case, Justice KArnik said that Deshmukh “appears to have roots in society and the possibility of fleeing away from justice seems remote”.

Maximum punishment, if found guilty, is seven years. Also, there are no criminal antecedents reported against him. Having regard to the totality of the circumstances, in my opinion, the applicant can be released on bail.

Release on bail on furnishing personal bond of Rs.1,00,000/- with one or more sureties in the like amount.

Report to the office of the CBI on every Tuesday, between 10.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon for one month from the date of his release. Thereafter, he shall report to the office of the CBI on every alternate Tuesday, between 10.00 a.m. and 12.00 noon, for the next three months.

To remain within the area of Greater Mumbai till the trial is concluded and shall not leave the area without permission of the competent Court.

Surrender his passport to the trial Court, if not already surrendered.

Not make any inducement directly or indirectly, threat or promise to tamper with witnesses.

Not tamper with evidence.

Co-operate with the expeditious disposal of the trial.

Maharashtra

Mira Bhayandar: 266 properties sealed as MBMC struggles to meet ₹200 Cr property tax collection target

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Mira Bhayandar: With just two days left in the ongoing financial year, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) is facing a herculean task of collecting at least ₹28 crore to keep itself qualified for receiving grants under the 15th finance commission.

Stung by the cold shoulder response to notices and warnings, the MBMC’s tax department has sealed more than 266 properties of chronic tax defaulters who owe more than ₹5 crore. The MBMC  had managed to recover a little over ₹172.58 crore till Tuesday evening which hovers below 79 percent of the total amount billed by the civic body towards property tax collections.

Surge in collection through digital payments

As per information sourced from the tax department, the target was set at ₹190 crore for the financial year 2021-22. However, the MBMC had managed to mop up just ₹161 crore. Against this year’s demand of around ₹222 crore, the MBMC has so far managed to recover a little over ₹172.58 crore 1 April 2022 to 28, March, 2023. The collections were limited to ₹150 crore in the corresponding period last year.

Notably, there has been a surge in collections through digital modes of payments including links on the municipal website and mobile application facilitated by the civic administration. Till now, more than ₹65.12 crore has been received from 1,24,715 taxpayers via digital payments. The assessed number of properties in the twin-city is currently pegged at around 3,68,501 including 63,498 commercial and 3,05,003 residential units. While the actual target is ₹222 crore, the MBMC needs to recover at least ₹200 crore to keep itself qualified for receiving grants under the 15th finance commission. Apart from this the shortfall in revenue generation is all set to put a negative effect on the ongoing developmental projects in the twin city.  

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Maharashtra

Mumbai: Shelar calls for SIT to probe ₹12,000 Cr BMC scam

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Mumbai: The president of BJP’s Mumbai unit, MLA Ashish Shelar has demanded the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the Rs12,000 crore corruption in the BMC, which has been exposed,

He told media persons on Tuesday that it is necessary to find out the mastermind behind this huge corruption, which involved a lot of kickbacks. 

Shelar to Shinde: Corruption pertains to 76 works undertaken by nine BMC departments


Shelar has written a letter to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in this regard. He said the corruption pertained to 76 works undertaken by nine BMC departments and alleged that it took place when the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray was in power. 

The CAG report was  from Nov 28, 2019 to Oct 31, 2022 and it does not include the works undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Shelar said there is a ‘yellow book’ with the BMC and a national construction code that tells how roads are supposed to be built. However, in brazen violation of all these rules, contracts were awarded without even floating tenders and that too in excess of the amount mentioned in tender documents. There have been cases of manipulation of tenders and breach of norms, he said, adding that perhaps no other governing body in the country has indulged in a scam of this scale. 

“There have been instances where tenders have been awarded to four companies but actually it is only one. In some other cases, tenders have been awarded to those who were not even qualified. Why were these contractors favoured?” he asked, adding that the CAG report exposed “lack of transparency, negligence, sloppy planning and misappropriation of funds”.

According to the Development Plan of 1993, over 32,394.90 sqm of land in Dahisar was reserved for a garden/ playground/ maternity home. Later, in Dec 2011, a decision for acquisition was made. Its final land acquisition valuation was Rs349.14 crore. Using the formula, the property was valued at Rs206.16 crore, which was 716% more than 2011, Shelar said. He alleged that land price valued at Rs130 crore was hiked to Rs349 crore. “It did not stop here. To allow development, the BMC spent another Rs77.80 crore to remove the encroachments. This means that it spent Rs420 crore on land worth Rs130 crore,” he claimed. 

While working as a corporator in the BMC during 2007, Shelar had exposed the scam in the SAP system. At that time, he had protested in front of the offices of the then municipal commissioner and the then Mayor and had demanded an investigation.

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Maharashtra

MVA predicts President’s rule in Maharashtra after SC verdict

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The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena (UBT) have forecast the possibility of President’s rule being imposed in Maharashtra after the upcoming Supreme Court verdict on the disqualification of 16 MLAs, here on Wednesday.

State NCP President Jayant Patil said that after the apex court judgement, the government of Shiv Sena Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Bharatiya Janata Party Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis is most likely to collapse.

“However, there may not be a midterm election as anticipated in some quarters, but instead, Central rule would be imposed after the SC verdict,” asserted Patil, addressing a meeting of party workers in Jalgaon late on Tuesday.

He claimed that the Shinde-Fadnavis government is “scared” of holding mid-term elections and is devising methods on how to postpone all elections due, including local bodies, and Market Committees also, as much as possible.

Endorsing the NCP leader’s stance, Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut said here this morning (March 29) that he is in full agreement with Patil’s assessment of the situation.

“It is very obvious that the SC verdict will ensure the disqualification of 16 MLAs, including Shinde… So, the state government will fall and there will be no other option left. Hence the likelihood of the President’s rule cannot be ruled out,” declared Raut.

The Sena (UBT) leader said that his party had absolutely no doubts that Shinde and the other MLAs would be disqualified, “provided everything goes as per the law”.

The third MVA ally, Congress has not commented on the latest developments, though its top leaders have said several times in the past that the Shinde government will topple after the SC judgement.

Nevertheless, the three parties are optimistic that the apex court outcome could prove to be a turning point for the state politics nine months after the MVA headed by former CM Uddhav Thackeray was ousted following a Shinde-led rebellion in June 2022.

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