The Bombay High Court Monday directed the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to complete the open inquiry in the Kharghar toll scam allegations in three months. The state government submitted before the court that it would not pay dues of Rs 390 crore to the contractors as it was alleged by the petitioner that the state was buying time to register an FIR so that it can finish the cash transaction before March 31 so that the payment was not stuck.
The court directed the state to not make the payment without its permission.
A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudesai was hearing a petition filed by activist Pravin Wategaonkar who had alleged irregularities and large-scale corruption by the state government and a few contractors in the tender process of Kharghar toll. The petition had also sought an FIR against corrupt officials.
“The issue is serious in nature and affects the general public. A lot of time has already lapsed. We want the open inquiry to conclude in three months from now. No payment will be made by the state to the contractors without court’s permission,” More said.
In the last hearing, the court had rapped the ACB for its unwillingness to register an FIR immediately, despite having carried out a preliminary inquiry.
The agency, through its counsel, Sultana Sonawane, once again, informed the court that as per the proceedural manual, the open inquiry will take upto six months to conclude as vast amount of documents since 2006 have to be examined, apart from recording statements.
“The open inquiry began on February 15 and the upper limit to finish the inquiry is six months as per the manual,” Sonawne told the court.
The court, however, pulled up the ACB for delaying the process and granted only three months to finish the probe. The next hearing is scheduled on July 10.