Updated: May 9, 2021 10:09:37 am
The Maharashtra government has given the one-man committee set up to probe allegations of corruption against former home minister Anil Deshmukh the powers enjoyed by a civil court.
The move came after the Opposition termed the committee an “eyewash”. Additional powers have been granted to the one-man committee of Justice (retd) K U Chandiwal under the provisions of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952.
The committee was set up to inquire into allegations of corruption made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh against Deshmukh in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. On the basis of the letter, the CBI has conducted a preliminary enquiry as directed by the Bombay High Court and recently registered an FIR against Deshmukh and conducted searches at his residence.
The panel can now summon and enforce the presence of any person for deposition, examine him on oath, requisition any public record or copy from any court for the probe.
The notification on giving the committee more powers was issued on May 3. It stated that the matter under inquiry as one of “definite public importance” and added that sections 4, 4, 5A, 8 and 9 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 shall be made applicable to the committee.
Soon after the government had set up the committee on March 30, the Opposition had alleged that it cannot be called a judicial commission, as it has not been given powers under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952.
“Neither it is constituted nor has been given the powers under The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, as was done in case of Hon Justice Zoting Committee during our tenure,” Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, had tweeted.
The committee of retired HC judge Dinkar Zoting was appointed by the previous Fadnavis government to conduct a probe after a controversy erupted over the Bhosari land deal in which kin of then BJP leader Eknath Khadse (now with NCP) appeared to have a conflict of interest.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government had set up the Chandiwal committee to conduct an inquiry on the allegations levelled by Singh in a letter against Deshmukh, who resigned as home minister on April 5.
Singh, in his letter to Thackeray on March 20, had alleged that Deshmukh had asked assistant police inspector Sachin Waze – later arrested by the NIA in the Ambani terror scare case – to collect Rs 100 crore every month, including Rs 40 to Rs 50 crore from some 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
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