A week after former state chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh got elevated to the rank of Union rural development minister, the state used Rs10 lakh from its exchequer to pay the Supreme Court the fine imposed on his government for obstructing police action against the money lender father of a Congress legislator.
An apex court bench comprising Justice AK Ganguly and Justice GS Shingvi had on December 14, 2010, dismissed the state’s appeal against a Bombay high court order that pulled up Deshmukh for stopping the police from taking action against legislator Dilipkumar Sananda’s father, Gokulchand, a private money lender.
The high court had imposed a fine of Rs25,000 on Deshmukh’s government. The Supreme Court raised the fine to Rs10 lakh and directed the state to pay it within six weeks of the date of the judgement.
The SC wants to use the money for poor farmers in the state. A senior government official, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, told the Hindustan Times that the home department paid the fine on the last day of the six-week period. The officer did not confirm the date of payment.
The SC had said Deshmukh’s instructions to the administration in Gokulchand’s case were “incongruous” and “anachronistic”, and “defied all logic and reason”.
The court recorded that of the 74 cases, charge sheets were filed in only seven, and said it wondered how many cases were hampered because of Deshmukh’s intervention.
Political observers expected the Congress to drop Deshmukh from the Manmohan Singh Cabinet after this embarrassment.
Citizen activists and the Opposition demanded that Deshmukh be made to pay the fine instead of using taxpayers’ money.
The state did not ask Deshmukh to pay up. He even got a plum portfolio during the recent Cabinet reshuffle.
At a function in the city on Saturday, an irked Justice Ganguly said Deshmukh’s promotion was “shameless”.
Deshmukh was unavailable for comment.
State Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil said Deshmukh was expected to seek a review of the case and move the full bench of the Supreme Court.
“The Congress will take a decision only when the final verdict is delivered.”
Commenting on Justice Ganguly’s remarks, Gadgil said that judges were expected to speak only through their judgements and not through public fora.