Court pulls up ACB for letting off Kripashankar
While directing the Mumbai police to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president Kripashankar Singh and his family members on Wednesday in a disproportionate assets case, the Bombay High Court came down heavily on Maharashtra's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).mumbai Updated: Feb 23, 2012 00:54 IST
While directing the Mumbai police to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president Kripashankar Singh and his family members on Wednesday in a disproportionate assets case, the Bombay High Court came down heavily on Maharashtra's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
The ACB had found during its investigation that 11.59 per cent of the assets held by Singh and his family were disproportionate to their known sources of income. However, it decided not to prosecute the Congress leader in view of its policy not to launch prosecution in cases where the disproportionate assets were found to be 10 per cent or less. Justifying its decision, the ACB said that the percentage was just marginally higher in Singh's case.
However, the division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi rejected the ACB's conclusions outright. "Such calculation would beat our arithmetic as much as our conscience," the judges observed, noting that Singh had purchased over a dozen valuable immovable properties after 2004.
The judges found fault with the conduct of the Congress leader and his family members. "The receipts by his son and payments made to him are counter-entries and demonstrate only an attempt to create cross record - a common feature and attribute of money laundering," they observed.
The court, however, refrained from passing any final orders to investigate allegations of money laundering. The court has restricted the case against Singh and his wife Maltidevi to provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Against the other family members, the case has been restricted to abetment.
According to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city resident Sanjay Dinanath Tiwari, the bank accounts of Maltidevi reflected transactions worth Rs3.40 crore. Kripashankar Singh's son Narendra's bank accounts revealed transactions worth Rs60 crore, while his wife's account showed transactions worth Rs 1.75 crore between 2006 and 2008. Apart from the cash transaction, the PIL also listed immovable properties worth Rs250 crore owned by the family.
The list of properties mentioned include a 1,355 square-foot duplex flat in Vile Parle (East), 250 acres of agricultural land in Ratnagiri district, a commercial complex having 8,000 square feet area at Jaunpur in UP, a bungalow at Carter Road in Bandra, a triplex flat in an under-construction building near Mount Mary in Bandra, two office buildings in Bandra-Kurla Complex having total area of 34,500 square feet.
The court has directed the police commissioner to treat the memo of the PIL as an FIR, and submit a report of investigation by April 19, 2012.