More trouble for Khadse: Probe panel granted more powers

The probe panel will get powers of a civil court, can summon any person for deposition, examine him on oath and requisition any public records or copy from any court for the probe

mumbai Updated: Nov 24, 2016 00:21 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Eknath Khadse,Zoting Committee,Land Grab Case

There seems to be more trouble in store of ousted revenue minister Eknath Khadse.

The state government has brought justice Dinkar Zoting committee, appointed to probe allegations of land grab by Khadse’s family, under the gamut of the Commission of Inquiry Act 1952. This means the probe committee will get powers of a civil court, can summon any person for deposition, examine him on oath and requisition any public records or copy from any court for the probe. It would also mean the probe report will be further delayed and it would have to be tabled before the legislature as mandatory under the Act.

Khadse had resigned as revenue minister following allegations of conflict of interest in the purchase of an industrial plot by his family at Bhosari in Pune from an individual who had disputed the state ’s notice for land acquisition for an industrial estate. Khadse told HT, “I am not aware of any such development. I think this has not happened before. A committee has never been notified under the Act when the probe is underway. I have submitted all the documents related to the deal to the committee.”

The committee has had two sittings each in Mumbai and Pune and number of meetings at its office in Nagpur.

According to the sources, the committee had requested the government to notify it under the COI Act for non-co-operation from some of the parties involved in the irregularities.

The state government issued a notification last week giving the committee the right to conduct the probe according to provisions under section 4 and 9 of the Act. It has also asked for a second extension citing non- completion of the probe. The judicial committee appointed on June 23 was given two months’ extension in September.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a text message reply to HT, said, “The committee has been only given powers under section 11 of the Act.” He added that section 11 gives committee the powers laid under section 4 and 9.

IPS officer-turned-advocate YP Singh said it would be a joke if the committee is notified under the Act five months after it is appointed because the work done so far would become meaningless. “The committee then gets powers to call for the documents and summon witnesses and complainants. Both the parties get right to be represented by advocates. The procedures are entirely different under the Act as compared to a probe by a committee of a retired judge. Thus, the probe done so far becomes meaningless,” he said.

The committee of retired Bombay HC judge Dinkar Zoting was appointed by the government on June 23 this year. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced that the report of the probe report will be submitted in three months. The probe was announced after controversy erupted over the Bhosari land deal in which Khadse’s kin appeared to have a conflict of interest. The one-man panel will probe whether the land belonged to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, its acquisition was completed; whether conflict of interest was involved in the deal and it was illegal.

In its letter written to the government two weeks ago, it has also asked for an extension in the wake of incomplete probe. The decision on the extension is expected to be taken next week after a nod from the chief minister.

First Published: Nov 24, 2016 00:21 IST