PILs against me have no merit, dismiss them: Ajit PawarUpdated: Jan 15, 2020 00:38 IST
A day before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court (HC) is scheduled to hear the public interest litigations (PILs) in the irrigation scam, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar filed an affidavit, seeking the dismissal of the petitions, as they are ‘without merit and have been filed with mala fide intentions’.
Around five PILs, filed by two petitioners, Atul Jagtap and the Jan Manch organisation, in the irrigation scam, are slated for hearing on Wednesday, after the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) gave a clean chit to Pawar last month. Pawar in his affidavit served to the petitioners on Tuesday and notarised on January 10, denied all the allegations against him, even as he has pointed out that courts do not ordinarily interfere in police probe. “This civil application is totally without merits, pleadings and is filed with mala fide motives, and therefore deserves to be rejected by imposing pecuniary costs,’’ his affidavit stated.
The Baramati legislator also alleged that the four PILs filed by Jagtap are not maintainable as “he is a contractor and had filed tenders in various projects, which were involved in the present PIL’’. Pawar alleged that Jagtap’s petitions are a result of personal motives, mala fide intentions, and business rivalry.
The affidavit seems to be in response to the affidavits filed by the two petitioners, which have expressed their complete lack of faith in the ACB’s “ability and the independence” to investigate the case impartially. While Jagtap has sought the transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Jan Manch, through its lawyer, sought for a commission of inquiry to probe the case.
Jan Manch’s affidavit stated that the petitioner has no faith in any investigating agency that is controlled by either state or the Centre. “The investigating agency and the entire state machinery is trying to save Ajit Pawar by creating an incorrect record and are trying to mislead this court. Because of the unprecedented developments, the petitioner wants to amend the petition,’’ stated JanManch’s affidavit filed on January 6.
Pawar in response in his affidavit, has denied all allegations and put it on record that he has not indulged in any corrupt, motivated or mala fide act while discharging his duties as a minister. “As a minister and the ex-officio chairman of VIDC [Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation], I have followed all the rules and discharged public duties with clear conscience... No wrong doing can be attributed to me as I have not granted any undue favours,’’the affidavit stated.
He has also pointed out that once an investigation is set into motion by registering of a first information report (FIR), it must be left to the probing agency and the court must not interfere in the process.
Addressing allegations that the ACB had take a U-turn by granting him a clean chit, Pawar in his affidavit said there has been no inconsistency by the investigating agency. He was referring to two contradictory affidavits, one filed by former ACB chief Sanjay Barve on November 26, 2018, and the other by ACB in November and December 2019.
While Barve had pointed to Pawar as being involved in the scam that had defrauded the public exchequer, the recent affidavits have absolved the minister.
Pawar’s affidavit stated that ACB has clarified that the earlier affidavit was filed in the absence of investigation reports, record or any evidence.
Pawar faces allegations of wrongdoing in the multi crore irrigation scam as the water resources minister from 1999 to 2009. He has faced allegations of favouring contractors by handing them mobilization advances and by hiking project costs in violation of existing norms. However, Pawar has not been accused in any of the police complaints filed so far by the investigative agencies.