The ‘open inquiry’ granted to the Maharashtra ACB against senior the NCP leaders will enable it to record statements and seize documents for a thorough investigation.
“Unlike a discreet inquiry, in which we find information of the person in question through sources and through secret investigations, an open inquiry will allow us to record the statements of people, conduct seizures and searches,” said a high-ranking ACB officer, on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The ACB said under an open inquiry, they can write to the various agencies under investigation and seek answers from them in writing. “Based on the investigations, we will either close the inquiry or register a FIR in this regard. The FIR could result in cases being filed for criminal misconduct and disproportionate assets,” said the officer.
If found guilty they could face action under 13(1) (e) and 13 (1) (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for criminal misconduct. Under this, any public servant who commits criminal misconduct shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that shall be not less than one year, but which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to a fine.
ACB sources said in the alleged Maharashtra Sadan scam for which the Mumbai ACB sought government’s nod, they had listed their charter of demands for the probe. Under this, the ACB is likely to record statements of the authorities and departments concerned.
Kirit Somaiya who had approached the ACB seeking an inquiry against Bhujbal, welcomed the inquiry. “After a 30-month-long fight, there is hope for justice,” he said. “I am planning to meet the ACB to support them and make the documents available.”
Pravin P Wategaonkar, citizen activist who had approached the ACB alleging the irrigation scam, said, “It a positive development after over three years of persistent efforts, first credible step and I congratulate Devendra Fadnavis on the same,” he said.