December 11, 2021 12:28:19 am
The director of municipal administration (MA) in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu on December 7 suspended president of Congress-ruled Diu municipal council Hitesh Solanki, citing that him continuing in the post during the trial proceedings of disproportionate assets (DA) and forgery case lodged against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will “lower the dignity of the office” and “impede” a fair.
Solanki’s suspension comes months after Section 58A was inserted in the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Municipal Council Regulation. The amendment empowers the MA director to suspend from office the president or the vice president of a municipality “against whom any criminal proceedings” over an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act have been initiated.
However, Solanki –the first president in the history of Diu municipal office to be removed from office — termed the order illegal and said that he would challenge it legally.
Through an order dated December 7, Tapasya Raghav, director of municipal administration (MA) in the UT of DNH, D&D suspended Solanki with immediate effect as president of the Diu municipal council. Saloni Rai, district collector of Diu and deputy director of MA confirmed Solanki’s suspension Friday and that the Congress leader has surrendered his official car.
“Continuance of Hitesh Govind Solanki, during trial proceedings will lower dignity of office of the president and may impede fair proceedings of the trial,” read the order.
Congress has been in power in Diu municipal council for the past 15 years and Solanki had been serving as president of the urban local body since 2012.
While he was serving his second term as president of Diu municipal council, the CBI had registered a DA case in 2016 against Solanki under various IPC sections including 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of valuable securities, will etc). The CBI had also booked Solanki under the Prevention of Corruption Act’s Section 13(1)E (public servant having assets disproportionate to known sources of his income). The case is presently pending in the Diu district court.
However, Congress had retained power in the general election to the Diu municipal council in 2017 by winning 10 out of 13 seats in the general board while BJP had managed to win only three. Solanki was subsequently elected president by the general board. Solanki’s suspension also comes just days after vice-president Mansukh Patel’s death on November 27.
Solanki said the MA director’s order is illegal. “The CBI registered a case of disproportionate assets against me in 2016 while I was serving my second terms as president. I won the subsequent election in 2017 and hardly six months are left. But they brought in an amendment to the effect that a president or vice-president cannot continue in office if an FIR is registered against him,” Solanki told The Indian Express, adding, “I have not been convicted by any court and such cases are pending against people holding charge of almost every other ministry.”
Solanki said that he would appeal against the director’s order in the court of the administrator of the UTs.
Praful Patel, administrator of DNH, D&D could not be reached for comments. However, Vivek Kumar, chief officer (CO) of Diu municipal council said that the administration is upholding democratic ethos and that a new president will be elected. “A meeting of councillors will be called and they will decide their president and vice-president,” said the CO.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.