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Govt gives go-ahead to ACB to conduct open inquiry against Param Bir

In further trouble for former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh, the Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau on Wednesday received permission from the state government to conduct an “open inquiry” against Singh on corruption charges.

The probe is based on a letter written to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government by Inspector Anup Dange, who had alleged that Singh demanded money to reinstate him in the Mumbai Police force when he was under suspension last year.

The ACB is also probing a second complaint against Singh, in which another inspector had written to the government accusing him of corruption. The agency, however, is yet to get a go-ahead from the state government to probe this matter.

It was based on the claims made by these two officers that ACB began a “discreet” investigation against Singh, who had denied all allegations.

“We had written to the government seeking permission to conduct an open inquiry against Singh. On Wednesday, the government wrote to us giving us permission for the same,” a senior officer said.

As per law, only after the competent authority in case of government employees gives permission can ACB probe an official.

A police officer said that an “open” inquiry means that the ACB can summon people, call for statements like income-tax returns and salary statements, and seek details about movable and immovable assets. If it finds enough evidence, an FIR can be registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In a “discreet” inquiry, which the ACB was earlier conducting, the agency cannot formally record statements or call for documents.

Dange, in his eight-page letter to the chief minister, home minister, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and state DGP in February, had said that in November 2019, when he went to shut down a pub in south Mumbai, the owner claimed to know Singh well. Dange, however, went on to file a complaint after a scuffle broke out outside the pub while the police were taking action against the pub.

Dange alleged that after Singh became Mumbai Police commissioner, he suspended him last July. He claimed that a person, claiming to be Singh’s relative, approached him and told him to pay Rs 2 crore if he wanted to be reinstated.

Dange had written to the government when relations between the MVA government and Singh soured following his letter accusing former home minister Anil Deshmukh of corruption. The government had then asked ACB to conduct a “discreet” inquiry into the matter.

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