In an affidavit filed in the Bombay high court, the Pune police on Tuesday said they had failed to find any “prima facie evidence” required to register a first information report (FIR) against BJP leader and former state revenue minister Eknath Khadse in the Pune land scam case.
In the affidavit, signed by the senior inspector of Bundgarden police station in Pune, the police said that “there is no material to establish a cognisable offence (against Khadse)”.
The police said they will be able to take any further action only if the judicial commission, appointed to look into irregularities, finds something amiss.
Advocate Niteen Pradhan, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, informed the court that the commission had sought a six-week extension to present its findings. The government is awaiting commission’s report to decide the next step, said Pradhan.
A bench of justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said that by delaying the probe, the government was failing to “perform its statutory duty”.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by a social activist who alleged that Khadse had bought a three-acre MIDC plot at Bhosri near Pune in the name of his wife for Rs3.75 crore against the market price of Rs40 crore. The controversy led to his resignation.
“We have been passing orders since September last year, saying that the state police must conduct its own probe, irrespective of the commission’s probe. We can understand delay by a month or two, but this has been going on for months. All the documents that the commission must be looking into are in the public domain. The police can get them from the registry for its probe,” the bench said. The HC said the scope of the judicial enquiry was limited and asked if the government acquired the land and if the minister misused his position.
However, the bench was not “concerned whether or not Khadse had resigned from his post following the allegations”.
The HC will hear the case on March 7. It warned the state police to make up its mind about the probe by then, failing which, it will be forced to pass orders.
Panel records Khadse’s statement
Eknath Khadse on Tuesday recorded his statement before the single-member inquiry commission in Nagpur in the Pune land scam case. Former Bombay high court Justice DS Zoting is investigating the allegations against Khadse. The commission is likely to submit its report to the government within next few days.
Khadse appeared before the inquiry commission and sought February 21 as the next date of hearing.
The inquiry will ascertain if the land was acquired by the MIDC and if it was eligible to be transferred or sold as per the norms.
The committee, formed in June last year, was asked to give its report to the government in three months. Later, it was given an extension.