Maharashtra irrigation scam: Bombay HC refuses to exclude NCP leader Ajit Pawar
The Nagpur bench also rebuked the state for not making its stand clear on whether it agreed to the charges levelled against Pawarmumbai Updated: Feb 08, 2018 17:01 IST
In what could spell trouble for senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, the Bombay high court on Wednesday refused to exclude his name from the list of respondents in the multi-crore irrigation scam.
Responding to a public interest litigation, the Nagpur bench of the court, comprising Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi, reprimanded the state when the government pleader did not reply on being asked about Pawar’s alleged role in the scam. The bench then asked the state why it was keeping mum, and rebuked it for not making its stand clear on whether it agreed to the charges levelled against Pawar by the petitioner.
Atul Jagtap, the petitioner, has alleged that there are huge irregularities in irrigation projects allocated to a company Bajoria Construction, whose owner Sandeep Bajoria was an NCP MLC and is Pawar’s close associate.
While filing the petition, Jagtap alleged that the construction company had bagged work orders of several irrigation projects on the basis of fake documents, and that the contracts for completing the projects were awarded to Bajoria Construction at Pawar’s behest during the Congress-NCP regime, when he was heading the irrigation department.
The court ticked off the Maharashtra government for not mentioning Pawar in the replies it has submitted regarding the irrigation projects in question. Pawar and Bajoria have been accused of corruption and irregularities involving four irrigation projects in Vidarbha — at Jigaon in Buldhana, Lower Pedhi in Amravati, Raigad barrage near Chandur, and Waghadi in Yavatmal.
Pawar had filed an application in court through his lawyer Shyam Dewani, requesting that his name be dropped from the list of respondents. There are no direct allegations against Pawar, his lawyer pointed out, and claimed that it was a political conspiracy against the NCP leader. The court, however, refused to strike out Pawar’s name.
Earlier, in November 2017, the court had slammed the state Anti-Corruption Bureau for its failure in submitting the report on investigations into the irrigation scam, following which, in December 2017, the ACB had booked several state irrigation officials and contractors.