Social activist Anna Hazare on Friday told the Bombay high court that he would first try to set the criminal law in motion about his allegation that the state exchequer has lost thousands of crores in the sale and privatisation of 47 cooperative sugar factories (CSFs) in Maharashtra.
Anna’s counsel, advocate Satish Talekar, told the court that the activist would first attempt to set the criminal law in motion by lodging a complaint with the police. The statement came after the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai said that Hazare could not invoke extraordinary jurisdiction of the high court for CBI probe in his allegations, without first using available alternate remedies.
The bench has now posted the public interest litigation filed by the 79-year-old activist for further hearing on February 13, after Talekar sought time of one month to pursue alternate remedies.
Hazare has sought in-depth probe in the sale and privatisation of 47 CSFs alleging that the scam has been maneuvered by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar. In the PIL filed through advocate Vinod Sangavikar, the social activist has alleged that the cooperative sugar factor scam has engulfed Maharashtra and pushed the state back by at least 50 years by causing loss of over Rs10,000 crore to the state exchequer. He also claimed that the move put the state under a debt of over Rs1 lakh crore.
According to the PIL, most of the CSFs – 31 of the 47 have been sold by the Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank. In 2011, the Reserve Bank of India scrapped the board of directors of the MSC bank, and appointed two administrators. The move came after the bank in 2009-10 reported net loss of Rs 775.98 crore and bad loans of over Rs 500 crore – about 30 % of its total advances, and the net worth of the bank had gone below zero - at minus Rs140 crores.
Thereafter, the Commissioner for Cooperation had appointed a senior official to enquire into the affairs of the bank and enquiry officer in his report of January 2014 concluded that the sale of the CSFs was illegal, causing losses of about Rs2,000 crore to the bank. Besides, 77 directors of the bank are facing charges of misappropriating funds to the tune of Rs 1,076 crores, stated the PIL.
Anna has alleged that “all the strings were pulled by Shri Sharad Pawar, who was holding the portfolio of the Union agricultural minister at Centre at the relevant time and also the ex-officio chairman of Vasantdada Sugar Institute.” His PIL further alleges that most of the sugar factories have been sold to the associates of Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar, the then deputy chief minister, has purportedly played a role in his capacity as the then chairman of Pune District Central Cooperative Bank and as director of the MSC bank.