MUMBAI: Though chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has said that the allegations against former revenue minister Eknath Khadse will be investigated, it is not yet clear if the probe will be within the ambit of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952. A probe under this act would mean more trouble for Khadse as it would have judicial sanctity.
Hours after Khadse resigned on Saturday, Fadnavis announced through a tweet that the inquiry would be conducted by a retired high court judge. He added that Khadse had demanded the probe.
But two days after the announcement, it is still not clear if the probe will be conducted under the Commission of Inquiry Act. A senior Mantralaya official, who did not wish to be named, said, “There are no directives yet from the chief minister’s office on this. Generally, to appoint a retired judge as head of an inquiry or committee, the law and judiciary department seeks the permission of the high court. No such discussion has taken place so far. It will be a political decision that will be taken at higher level.” The official added that the probe’s ambit and terms of reference are yet to be decided.
A retired judge, who once headed a similar commission to probed irregularities, said, “It is not clear if the panel will probe all the allegations against Khadse or only those related to the MIDC plot at Bhosari. If a retired judge heads the probe, the commission will have the powers to summon anybody related to the cases and issue warrants if they don’t cooperate. The probe will get legal sanctity as it is as good as a court.”
If the probe is conducted under the Act, it may also take longer to complete. Opposition has, meanwhile, decided to insist on a probe under the Act. “We have decided to insist on a judicial probe not only for the allegations against Khadse, but against all ministers facing corruption charges,” said Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, leader of opposition in the legislative assembly.