RR Patil, Maharashtra’s home minister, asked the state criminal investigation department (CID) in 2007 to stop investigating four cases of alleged corruption and fraud involving land ownership in Pune, according to an affidavit filed in the high court by the investigating officer.
The four cases date back to April 2005 and concern violations of the Urban Land Ceiling Act.
One of the accused in one of the cases is Yogesh Mhase, who was deputy resident collector of Pune when the alleged frauds took place. Mhase subsequently became the officer on special duty to Patil, a position he held when the CID began investigating cases in November 2006 and continues to hold till today.
“After the meeting [with Patil], Yadav…directed [me] to maintain status quo on all ULC cases,” Avinash Mokashi, who was the investigating officer with the CID for the cases, says in a 65-page affidavit, a copy of which the HT has.
In his affidavit filed with the high court on July 20 this year, Mokashi further revealed that, based on his recommendation, the department’s additional director general, Jayant Umranikar, had approved in January 2007 the arrest of Mhase and five other government officers in relation to one of the four cases. The police had already arrested ten others accused in the case.
In March 2007, Patil told the legislative assembly that the police was in the process of arresting Mhase and the five accused. The HT has copies of Patil’s statement in the assembly. But Patil not only failed to arrest Mhase, but earlier in the month transferred Umranikar out of the CID and replaced him with SPS Yadav. Patil also transferred Mokashi, in April 2008.
Mokashi filed the affidavit in connection with a public interest litigation petition filed in the high court in June 2008 and is likely come up for hearing today.
The petitioner, Madhav Bhandari, requested the court to direct the government to arrest the accused, including Mhase. Because of the state’s “unwillingness” to “prosecute those guilty” and its wish to give them “a clean chit”, the government is cheated of surplus land, the petition says. Patil declined to meet the HT and did not respond to phone calls or text messages. Mhase said he did not wish to comment because the case was sub judice. Umranikar, who has retired, also declined to comment.
“Mhase’s arrest was approved. Why has he still not been arrested?” Justice BH Marlapalle asked on September 2.
(With inputs from Urvi Mahajani)
CID acts, sort of
After the high court asked the government on September 2 this year why it had not arrested Yogesh Mhase, home minister R R Patil’s officer on special duty, and five others accused in a case of corruption and fraud filed in 2006 in Pune, the CID filed a charge sheet in connection with the case in a Pune court at the end of the month. It failed to include Mhase in the list of accused.
Instead it decided to arrest a Pune-based landowner, Laxman Dodke, 58, until then a complainant in another of the four cases. According to the CID’s records, Dodke approached them in September 2006 alleging that a local lawyer whom he had engaged had obtained a forged order in his name under the Act. The CID conducted a preliminary enquiry and registered a case on November 29, 2006 at the Deccan police station in Pune and arrested the lawyer. Last month, the CID changed its mind and decided Dodke was a beneficiary of the forged orders. P R Londhe, deputy superintendent of police, CID, who is investigating the case, declined to comment.
Dodke, through his advocate Shrikant Shivde, has sought anticipatory bail from a Pune sessions court, which has granted him protection and directed the CID to explain why it wants to arrest him. It will hear the matter on October 19.