Maha govt can’t be mute spectator to BMC imprudence in road scam: HC
The court asked the state if it was even “aware of the condition of the roads and drains in the city”Updated: Mar 01, 2017 00:55 IST
The Bombay high court on Tuesday came down heavily on the state government for its impassiveness in taking action in last year’s Rs353-crore BMC road scam, reminding it that the state possessed an “overall supervisory jurisdiction” and had “powers over the corporation.”
A bench of justice VM Kanade and justice PR Bora said the state could not be a “mute spectator to what the corporation was doing” by simply stating the corporation functions autonomously. It asked the state to file within four weeks, a report stating whether it extends any funding to the corporation and if so, then what “monitoring mechanism” does it have in place to check “how such money is spent.”
The bench asked the state if it was even “aware of the condition of the roads and drains in the city.”
It also refused to transfer the probe into the road scam to the state anti-corruption bureau (ACB) saying the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data “proved that such cases with the ACB have a zero percent conviction rate.” Instead, the bench asked the state police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) to expedite their probe.
The directions came after the SIT and the EOW submitted their respective probe reports in sealed covers. They also told the court that while 24 people had already been arrested in the case, “further investigations were on.”
The bench said it was a “matter of common knowledge that huge amount of money was spent each year towards constructing or repairing roads and cleaning up nallahs. However, in actual reality, such an exercise is rarely undertaken properly. Instead, various parts of the city get flooded every year because the money that is supposed to be spent on repairs goes down the drain or into the pockets of officials concerned.”
“The government can’t be a helpless witness to this. What steps have been taken to monitor the activities of the corporation?” it asked.
The state, in turn, said it had appointed auditors. However, even some of these auditors had turned out to be accused in the road scam.
The corporation argued that it was “trying its best to weed out such elements” from its system and had suspended the officials concerned and blacklisted contractors.
The court pointed out that earlier last year, the corporation had given out new work orders to these very contractors.
The HC was hearing a plea filed by Vivekanand Gupta highlighting serious irregularities by the BMC in the construction of roads between 2013 and 2016.