The Opposition mounted pressure on the Congress a day after the Bombay high court held that former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh awarded a lucrative Goregaon plot to film-maker Subhash Ghai for a film school at throwaway rates.
Eknath Khadse, leader of opposition in legislative assembly, said that Deshmukh must resign as Union minister. Vinod Tawde, Khadse's counterpart in the legislative council, demanded that all land deals executed during Deshmukh's tenure be scanned for irregularities.
Senior government officials from the urban department and cultural department remained tight-lipped. “We haven't received a certified copy of the court order yet. We will take a call on it after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan ends his election campaigning on February 15,” said a bureaucrat, requesting anonymity.
Chavan had told media on Thursday that the government would appeal in the Supreme Court in case the verdict was not in its favour. But a senior law and judiciary expert in Mantralaya said that the order was not against the government. “It is against a person [Ghai] and the order allows the government to recover the financial losses it suffered because of the deal,” the officer said.
Deshmukh refused to comment, but a close aide told HT that the minister was weighing legal options. “Deshmukh will discuss the case with the government and convince it to challenge the HC verdict in the Supreme Court because he feels that he did no wrong in endorsing the deal,” he said.