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Petition filed seeking Patil’s interrogation in murder case

A writ petition has been filed by Rajni Patil, widow of Vishram Patil who was allegedly murdered in 2005 by Pratibha’s brother due to political rivalry, reports Urvi Mahajani.
Hindustan Times | By Urvi Mahajani
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2007 08:35 PM IST

Presidential candidate and former Rajasthan Governor, Pratibha Patil has yet another petition filed against her and this time in the Bombay High Court. A writ petition was filed on Friday by Rajni Patil, widow of Vishram Patil who was allegedly murdered in 2005 by Pratibha’s brother due to political rivalry.

Vishram, president of the Jalgaon District Congress Committee (DCC), was found brutally murdered in September 2005. The allegations were that the motive was intra-party rivalry between him and Pratibha’s brother Dr GN Patil and another member Ulhas Patil as GN Patil narrowly lost the DCC poll to the former.

Rajni, a professor of Marathi has sought that Pratibha should be interrogated by the CBI before the Presidential election on July 19 stating that if she wins then she will get Constitutional immunity and the case will be buried.

A division bench of Justice RMS Khandeparkar and Justice VK Tahilramani asked the CBI to filed its reply by July 17 while taking the investigation papers in its custody for perusal. “We will look into the investigation papers and then decide on the prayer (seeking Pratibha’s interrogation),” remarked Justice Khandeparkar.

Rajni said that her husband had raised his voice against various irregularities and malpractices committed by GN Patil which was the reason why he was murdered. Her counsel Mahesh Jethmalani argued that the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay HC had transferred the case to the CBI from the state CID in March this year, however, there has been no progress in the case. “Widow’s rights should be protected. She is being denied justice,” said Jethmalani.

After Vishram’s murder, the local police had arrested two persons, Raju Koli and Raju Sonawane. However, in September without stating any reason the investigation was transferred to the state CID. Rajni’s petition alleges that this made it obvious that the investigation was being influenced by some highly placed sources.

Before the murder, he had received several threatening letters which were submitted to the police and also brought to the notice of the Congress high command.

Raju Mali had given a confessional statement before a television channel while he was in judicial custody alleging that GN Patil had given him supari (contract) to eliminate Vishram. “The CBI questioned GN Patil and Ulhas on May 24, but later no steps have been taken,” argued Jethmalani.

The CBI has also interrogated Rajni on April 7 where she mentioned the list of events and asking the agency to record Koli’s statement . Incidentally, on the very same day (April 7) Koli was found dead in his cell under suspicious circumstances. “When she asked the CBI to question Pratibha, the agency refused saying that they could not question her since she was the Governor of Rajasthan,” added Jethmalani.

Additional solicitor general BA Desai arguing on behalf of the CBI argued that Koli was unwell, hinting that there was no suspicious circumstances involved in Koli’s death. He also said that the agency never refused to question Patil as she was the Governor.

The court too remarked, “How can you (Rajni) decide whom to interrogate. It is for the investigating agency to decide who is material witness in the case.”

Rajni has alleged in her petition that her husband had exposed the alleged misappropriation of funds collected for the Tsunami victims by GN Patil. The petition also points out that Sant Muktabai Co-operative Sugar Factory of which Pratibha was chairman was sealed by the creditor bank on account of loan default of Rs 17.7 crore. There were also many financial irregularities and frauds such as excise evasion on export oriented sugar. A co-operative women’s bank established in Pratibha’s name – Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank in Jalgaon was also shut down by the Reserve Bank of India after allegedly detecting financial irregularities.

“These failed institutions had contributed to people’s disillusionment with the Congress party, which was under the grip of Smt Pratibha Patil’s family for close to 30 years. The deceased VG Patil was trying to revive the party by putting an end to these malpractices,” states the petition.

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