Irrigation scam : HC raps Maharashtra govt for its casual approach to probe

The high court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Nagpur-based Atul Jagtap.

mumbai Updated: Mar 15, 2018 01:13 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,bombay high court,irrigation scam
The Bombay high court on Wednesday took the state government to task over the tardy pace of the multi-crore irrigation probe.(HT File)

The Bombay high court on Wednesday took the state government to task over the tardy pace of the multi-crore irrigation probe involving key leaders such as former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, and asked why an inquiry by a special investigation team (SIT) should not be instituted.

A division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Murlidhar Giradkar said, “If you take 39 months to start probe after the advocate general made a categorical statement on the direct instruction of the chief minister to conduct an open inquiry against Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare and Chhagan Bhujbal, then what must be happening to ordinary investigation?”

The high court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Nagpur-based Atul Jagtap alleging that Raigad river project at Chandur Railway, Waghadi irrigation project in Daryapur, Jeegaon and Lower Pedhi works were awarded to a firm controlled by ex-MLC Sandip Bajoria on the basis of bogus documents. This revealed gross violation of norms by authorities because of Bajoria’s proximity to the then irrigation minister Pawar. The petitioner, who obtained details under the RTI Act alleged that tender conditions were tweaked to favour the Bajoria-led construction firm allegedly at the behest of Pawar.

The petitioner also sought to intervene in the matter since in their petition, entire violations by those in power were listed in detail. During the last hearing, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court had directed the state and the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) to spell out Pawar’s role in awarding tenders to Bajoria and place it before the court in two weeks.The petitioner pointed out that the ACB investigated the role of Pawar and found he had granted mobilisation advance to all the bidding companies, including Bajoria’s. Subsequently, the state informed the court that ACB has already recorded Pawar’s statement and his role was being investigated in view of Rules of Business. Chief secretary Sumit Mullick promised to complete the irrigation scam probe expeditiously.

However, when Mullick’s fresh affidavit on Wednesday cited that the inquiry was delayed because of manpower, the court lashed out at the state. It directed the state to furnish a fresh affidavit about the progress of the enquiry in two weeks.

First Published: Mar 15, 2018 01:13 IST