Nearly two years after the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police approached the BJP government in Maharashtra for permission to attach properties belonging to Congress leader Kripashankar Singh and his family in a Rs 300-crore disproportionate assets case, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has finally granted the request. Senior government officials confirmed that the chief minister-led home department had recently communicated orders in this regard to the EOW.
“The government’s nod for attachment of the properties in the case has been communicated to the Small Causes Court. Once the court decides on the matter, action will be initiated,” a senior home department official told The Indian Express.
The controversy dates back to 2010 when Sanjay Tiwari, an activist, had approached the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) complaining that Singh, then an MLA, and his family had amassed assets worth several hundred crore. But the ACB had decided against pursuing the complaint, contending that its preliminary inquiry showed the combined income of Singh and wife Maltidevi was just about 11 per cent more than their known sources of income. Later Tiwari approached the Bombay High Court, which, in turn, directed the Mumbai Police Commissioner to probe the case afresh.
Things took a turn when in February 2012, the Mumbai Police lodged an FIR in the matter. In the wake of the controversy, Singh, who was then also heading the Mumbai unit of the Congress party, was forced to step down from the post. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Mumbai Police, headed by the then Mumbai Commissioner Arup Patnaik, was formed to investigate the matter. In March 2012, this SIT conducted searches at Singh’s offices and residences.
The state government was first approached for permission to prosecute the Congress leader in the case in December that year, which was turned down.
With the court hearing Tiwari’s public interest litigation in the matter, the police submitted multiple progress reports on the status of the investigation to the Court.
In 2014, Fadnavis, then an Opposition legislator, and current Education Minister Vinod Tawde, who was the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council at that time, had targeted the Congress-NCP regime, after the then Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil refused to give permission for Singh’s prosecution, alleging that the Congress and the NCP were “shielding corruption”. The BJP won office in Maharashtra in October 2014, while Singh failed to be re-elected to the Assembly.
The same month, the Home department submitted a fresh plea to the government, seeking permission to attach properties found disproportionate to Singh and his family’s income. As Singh ceased to be an MLA, sources clarified that the government’s nod for prosecution was no longer needed.
On April 21, 2015, the SIT chargesheeted Singh, his wife, son Narendramohan, daughter-in-law Sunita Singh, and son-in-law Vijay Singh, alleging that the accused willingly incurred huge losses investing in commodites, procured and provided unsecured loans to Bollywood personalities, top builders and politicians, and held benami properties in a suburban housing complex, among others charges, allegedly in an effort to roll over unaccounted for cash.
The chargesheet mentions several property transactions including those in high-end buildings in Powai and Bandra.