The state government will have to tell the Bombay High Court why it stayed the arrests of Yogesh Mhase, officer on special duty with former deputy chief minister, R.R. Patil, and five others in a land scam.
A division bench of Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice Amjad Sayed on Thursday questioned the provision under which Mhase’s arrest was stayed in the case of alleged fabrication of documents under the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act (ULCA), 1976.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari seeking the formation of a Special Investigation Team to probe cases in which documents were forged to avoid surrendering excess land to the government under the ULCA.
The probe was handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in November 2005.
The court has asked Public Prosecutor Pandurang Pol to produce the investigation papers of 29 other cases in which the CID detected bogus ULC orders. It has also called for a status report of four cases in which a first information report was lodged.
The petitioner’s lawyer, Ganesh Sovani, said the investigation officer, deputy superintendent (CID), Avinash Mokashi, had recommended the arrests of Mhase and five others on March 7, 2007. Then commissioner of police Jayant Umranikar and deputy inspector general Shobha Ohotkar had approved this, Sovani said.
Patil had assured the state Assembly that the process of arresting the six accused was on. Mhase, however, is still Patil’s OSD in the Home department.
The petition alleges that a meeting took place at Mantralaya on September 26, 2009 in Patil’s chamber, which was attended by then CID chief S.P.S. Yadav and Mokashi. Mokashi’s affidavit states Yadav stayed the arrests after this meeting. The state had appointed former bureaucrat Sudhakar Joshi to examine more than 235 orders passed under the ULCA. Joshi has been able to examine only 120 files.
The court has asked Joshi to be present during the next hearing on September 16.