DESPITE MAKING claims before the Bombay High Court (HC) about two-and-a-half years ago that there was “enough material on record to chargesheet the accused” persons named in the alleged land scam exposed by slain RTI activist Satish Shetty in 2009, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has not filed any chargesheet in this case. Subsequently, the family of the slain RTI activist has said that the investigation in this case is “malicious” and has been “compromised”.
“It is on record that the CBI told the high court about having enough material to chargesheet the accused persons named in the land scam exposed by Shetty. The CBI even told the court that this case may be linked to the murder. But still, the CBI did not file the chargesheet against any of the accused in this case. The CBI probe in this case is slow and doubtful. There must be some pressure on CBI sleuths because of which they are not filling the charge sheet,” said Sandeep Shetty, brother of the slain RTI activist.
When contacted, a senior officer from the CBI’s Anti Corruption Branch in Pune, which is now probing the case, said, “The probe is on in the case. The media will be informed when we conclude the probe.” Asked whether a timeframe could be given about filing of the chargesheet in the case, the officer refused to comment.
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Based on documents obtained under the RTI, Shetty has lodged a complaint of cheating and forgery (under sections 420, 467, 468, 469, 471, 34 of IPC) at the Lonavala city police station (FIR number 152) on October 15, 2009 against IRB’s chairman and managing director Virendra Mhaiskar and 12 others, including the then sub registrar, Ashwini Kshirsagar, alleging illegal purchase of land in Ozarde and Pimploli villages in Maval taluka of Pune district.
Satish started receiving threats and on November 24, 2009, he filed an application with the rural police seeking protection. But on January 13, 2010, he was murdered with a sharp weapon around 7 am in Talegaon Dabhade.
Satish’s family had demanded probe against those named by him in his application seeking protection. But the Pune rural police filed a closure report (c- summary) in this case on September 9, 2011. And, a few months later, in 2012, IRB scrapped its township project on this disputed land.
The rural police stated in its the closure report, “Investigations revealed that the crime alleged by the complainant (Shetty) has not been committed. It is revealed that the complainant has filed a complaint against the accused (Mhaiskar and others) due to misunderstandings.”
Meanwhile, after taking over the probe in murder case, the CBI moved HC seeking orders for setting aside the closure report filed by rural police. The HC ordered in favour of CBI. The order dated November 19, 2013, mentions, “It is contended on behalf of CBI that there was enough material on record to chargesheet the accused named in FIR No. 152 of 2009 and other accused added during the course of investigation. It is in the view of the fact that more than enough material against the persons named in the FIR was available, it was not proper on the part of the state police to submit final (‘C’ summary) report,”.
“If enough material was available, then why is it that for the last two years the CBI did not file a chargesheet against the accused named in the FIR?,” asks Sandeep. He said that instead of probing this “material” further, the CBI filed a closure report in the murder case on August 11, 2014.
The closure report, filed just three days after the CBI had sought permission from HC to re-open the land scam, gave a clean chit to IRB’s Mhaiskar and other suspects. But the report mentioned startling information about the suspicious activities of some of the accused named in the land scam case and officers of the Pune rural police.
Meanwhile, the CBI re-opened the land scam case on August 28, 2014, conducted searches in Pune and Mumbai during the probe and seized incriminating material. Based on it, the CBI again re-opened the murder case in January 2015.
Then, in April 2016, the CBI arrested two retired police inspector Bhausaheb Andhalkar and retired assistant police inspector Namdev Kauthale, both of whom were part of the local crime branch (LCB) of the Pune rural police, which was investigating the Shetty murder case initially.