The Shiv Sena finally coming on board has given the BJP-led Maharashtra government a boost, arming it with more than the required magic number for majority in the Legislative Assembly. This has led to talks of the government giving the nod for an inquiry into alleged irregularities by senior Nationalist Congress Party leaders Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare, and Chhagan Bhujbal.
The state Anti Corruption Bureau had earlier sought government approval for an “open inquiry” against Ajit Pawar, who was deputy chief minister in the Congress-NCP government and Sunil Tatkare, for their role in approving irrigation projects. They were in charge of the water resources department. The BJP, when it was in the Opposition had alleged irregularities in irrigation projects.
The ACB had approached the government for permission for a probe on August 22, when Congress-NCP government was still in office. While the state home department approved the agency’s proposal on September 1, final approval is pending.
The state home department had approved another proposal from ACB seeking an “open inquiry” against Bhujbal, former Maharashtra PWD minister, in a PPP project involving Delhi’s Maharashtra Sadan and two government buildings in Mumbai. The file is awaiting final nod. On October 14, ACB submitted a “special report” making a strong case to launch a probe against Bhujbal.
In an interview to a news channel, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis raised the issue of whether prior approval was needed for an open inquiry. Both ACB and the home department officials cited a May 14 judgment of the Supreme Court, which rules out prior government sanction to probe graft cases against senior government servants, making a case for withdrawal of a 1981 state government resolution (GR) that mandates prior permission. The state’s general administration department had earlier opposed the withdrawal of the GR. Requesting anonymity, a source said Fadnavis sought Advocate General Sunil Manohar’s opinion on whether prior government nod was necessary.
Tatkare said the party leaders were ready to face any probe.
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