The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the state government to explain why no action was taken against Dr Niteen Kareer, principal secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), while hearing public interest litigations (PILs) on the transfer of development rights (TDR) scam in Pune.
The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and justice SJ Kathawala told the state to file an affidavit in reply to the PIL filed by corporator Shyam Deshpande.
The fraud came to light in 2004 — when Kareer was Pune civic chief — after an assistant engineer with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) lodged a police complaint.
According to the complaint, Vitthal Hire, ‘co-owner’ of a 36,100 sq mt plot at Kothrud, obtained TDR by submitting fraudulent documents although the plot had been acquired by the civic body in 1986 after its owners had been compensated.
Deshpande alleged that though at least nine officers, including Kareer, were involved in the scam valued at Rs 1,500 crore, no action was taken against them.
Apart from Kareer, two other Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers were named in the case — then additional municipal commissioners DS Zagade and Mohan Adtani.
Deshpande’s lawyer, Uday Warunjikar, said the Anti-Corruption Bureau decided not to charge sheet Kareer and other officers. “Now, he is principal secretary in CMO,” Warunjikar said, urging the court to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Warunjikar pointed out that though the PMC issued show cause notices to at least 14 employees five years ago, nothing was done after that.
Advocate General Ravi Kadam, opposing the plea, said: “Kareer has an outstanding record.” He said adverse observations about Kareer would have serious implications on his career.
Kiran Bagalia, appearing for another PIL petitioner, countered that Kareer should face the consequences if he had done something wrong.
She claimed that, as Pune civic chief, Kareer ignored reports about the scam and was therefore equally guilty.