The Bombay high court on Wednesday disposed of a public interest litigation seeking investigation of links between Amruta Fadnavis, wife of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, and a self-proclaimed godman, Guru Gurvanand Swami from Tirupati.
The division bench of chief justice DH Waghela and justice MS Sonak disposed of the PIL filed by Anil Kokane after noticing that the Dalit activist had not approached any authority for lodging complaint about the alleged links between Amruta Fadnavis and the purported godman, before approaching the court. The bench also granted him liberty to approach the authorities concerned if he wished to pursue his complaint against the two.
The PIL was primarily based on an event held at Pune wherein the chief minister’s wife attended a program wherein Gurvanand Swami was also present. During the event, the self-proclaimed godman produced a diamond necklace out of thin air, purportedly with the aid of magical powers, and presented it to Amruta Fadnavis. Kokane alleged that after the incident the chief minister’s wife praised the Swami as a highly educated person – allegedly a meritorious graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
The activist further alleged that the self-proclaimed godman had a criminal past and he had cheated several persons. He had sought high-level investigations into the purported links between Amruta Fadnavis and Gurvanand Swami contending that such fake gurus have been duping innocent people and amassing wealth.
Counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation, advocate HS Venegaonkar, raised preliminary objection to the PIL pointing out that the petitioner had approached the court without first making any representation or lodging any complaint with any authority. Public prosecutor Sandip Shinde, on the other hand, pointed out that there was no material in the PIL disclosing any cognisable offence.
Kokane’s counsel, senior advocate Amrutesh NP, however, maintained that the network of the fake guru was spread across the country and therefore it was necessary to involve central agencies in the probe. After the senior advocate pointed out that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office was an appropriate authority to investigate the alleged hawala rackets being run by Gurvanand Swami, the judges sought to know, if the petitioner had made any representation to the financial investigator, and disposed of the PIL after the answer came to be negative.