After being sent on leave over Wadhawans’ Mahabaleshwar trip, Amitabh Gupta is Pune Police chief

Amitabh Gupta has been named as Pune police chief months after he was sent on compulsory leave for facilitating the visit of scam accused businessmen Kapil, Dheeraj Wadhawan, and their 23 family members to Mahabaleshwar even as non-essential travel was barred as part of measures to check the Covid-19 spread in April.

The elevation came as part of a shuffle in the Maharashtra police with the transfer of 40 Indian Police Service (IPS) officers on Thursday. Gupta will replace K Venkateshan, who has been named additional director general (special operations), as the Pune police commissioner.

A fact-finding committee, which was formed to look into the permission granted to the Wadhawans to travel from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar, found Gupta exceeded his jurisdiction and had no authority to issue a letter to them for it. Gupta then maintained he issued the letter on humanitarian grounds. He was reinstated as principal secretary (special) home department over a month later.

Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan, the Diwan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL) promoters, are accused of money laundering in the multi-crore Yes Bank fraud case. Yes Bank is alleged to have invested Rs3,700 crore in short term non-convertible debenture of DHFL between April and June 2018. Its promoter, Rana Kapoor, allegedly received Rs600 crore as kickbacks from DHFL in terms of loan advanced to two firms, DOIT Urban Ventures (India) Private Limited and Morgan Credits Private Limited. Kapoor’s three daughters hold 100℅ stakes in DOIT and his wife controls Morgan Credits.

Also read: Auditor flags fraudulent transactions worth Rs 17,394 cr in DHFL case

The Wadhawan family travelled to Mahabaleshwar, bypassing sealed district borders after Gupta issued the letter on his letterhead as the principal secretary (special), home department. The outrage over the facilitation despite the national lockdown to ensure social distancing prompted the Maharashtra government to order an inquiry against Gupta. Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in April called the letter “uncalled for and inappropriate” and added such permission could have given only in case of an emergency and promised stringent action.

The family was detained from the Diwan farmhouse after locals raised objections to them staying there amid the pandemic for violating the prohibitory orders of the nationwide lockdown in April. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had them issued non-bailable warrants against the two in connection with the scam.

The Maharashtra government drew flak from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party for allowing the Wadhawans to holiday in Mahabaleshwar with official permission.

Neither Deshmukh nor additional chief secretary (home) Sitaram Kunte responded to calls or messages for comments.

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