The Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau on Saturday searched the office and official residence of a former minister in connection with the arrest of Vaibhav Andhale, an ‘agent’ who has allegedly also worked as the former minister’s assistant in the past.
Andhale (23) was arrested recently by the ACB after he allegedly accepted Rs 23 lakh from a businessman in exchange for handing over the file related to a land dispute that was recently heard by the revenue department. The file, which was later found in Andhale’s house, was supposed to have been in the former minister’s possession. The ACB is now investigating how it the file came to be in Andhale’s possession. Further investigations also revealed that Andhale had worked for a brief period as the former minister’s assistant.
“We obtained warrants to search the B-7 government bungalow in Cuffe Parade, which was allotted to the former minister, as well as his office, from the court and conducted the searches on Saturday. We have recovered four original copies of Revenue Department hearings pertaining to various matters as well as an original copy of a file pertaining to a matter of the Cooperatives Department, along with copies of several of the former minister’s past hearings. All of the paperwork has been taken into custody,” said an ACB officer.
Director General of Police (ACB) Pravin Dixit said, “We are finding out if the files seized from the official residence of the former minister in question have any bearing on our case. It is too early to decide whether there are grounds for conducting an open inquiry.”
The complainant in the case, a businessman, was involved in a dispute over the rights to an 18-acre plot in Pune, and had approached the Revenue Department. When the Department ruled in his favour, Andhale, who had acted as an agent, demanded Rs 25 lakh from the businessman. After accepting Rs 23 lakh, he gave Rs 1 lakh to Revenue Department desk officer Sanjay Suradkar and Rs 50,000 to his assistant, Devidas Dahiphale. All the three were subsequently arrested by the ACB and are in police custody.