Bombay High Court (HC) recently asked the economic offences wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police to continue probing Swaminath Chobe,a retired PWD executive engineer accused of misappropriating Rs 112.58 crore. A division bench of justices P V Hardas and Mridula Bhatkar,however,said court permission should be sought before filing a charge sheet.
Chobe has approached HC to quash an FIR registered on October 22,2012,at Azad Maidan Police Station based on a complaint by PWD employee Ulhas Debadwar. The FIR also names S K Saxena,who allegedly failed to verify whether cheques issued by Chobe were according to the allocated budget. Chobe,who served in PWD from June 16,2010,to January 31,2012,was in-charge of five sub-divisions central,south,west,MLA hostel and hospitals. He was also required to look after maintenance and repairs of residences of ministers,judges,Mantralaya,Sahyadri state guest houses,residential and heritage buildings.
In a number of cases,work had to be carried out on priority by either engaging labour cooperatives,unemployed engineers or by calling tenders,he said.
However,soon after the FIR was filed,Chobe obtained anticipatory bail from a sessions court. Investigation was handed over to EOW in November 2012. In his petition,Chobe contended the FIR filed with malafide intentions caused mental trauma to him and tarnished his illustrious career and reputation.
He said PWD had to clear pending bills before taking up new projects. Considering the urgency to carry out the work assigned,pending bills are required to be cleared,else PWD faces the wrath of high-ranking officers for not carrying out repairs/renovations of premises of senior bureaucrats,ministers. In the circumstances,the department has no option but to clear dues of contractors.
Payments towards the works were ratified by the audit department and hence there was no question of misappropriation or irregularity.
The case will be heard on June 20.