The anti-corruption bureau of the CBI on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against 16 people, including chairman and managing director of IRB Infrastructure Developers Limited Virendra Mhaiskar, in connection with an alleged land scam in Maharashtra. The scam was exposed by RTI activist Satish Shetty in 2009. In January 2010, Shetty was found murdered. His murder is the subject of a separate CBI investigation.
The chargesheet in the land scam case was filed in a special court in Pune under Sections 120 (b), 420, 511 of IPC and sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Two firms — IRB Infrastructure and its subsidiary Aryan Infrastructure Investments Private Limited (AIIPL) — are named in the chargesheet. So are former project head of AIIPL Deepak Dattatrya Gadgil (62), advocate Ajit Balwant Kulkarni (56) and his wife Jyoti Kulkarni, who owns Jyo Development Corporation. The special court granted bail to Mhaiskar and some others, but asked them not to leave the country without permission.
Shetty had lodged a complaint of cheating and forgery at the Lonavala City police station on October 15, 2009, against Mhaiskar and 12 others, including then sub-registrar Ashwini Kshirsagar, alleging illegal purchase of land in Ozarde and Pimploli villages in Pune district.
According to the CBI, 73.88 hectares were acquired by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation for the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. But the accused allegedly conspired to grab the land. It is alleged that land was purchased by AIIPL and Jyo Development and then taken over by the IRB for a township project, which was scrapped in 2012. In a statement issued on Wednesday IRB denied “all allegations”.
“The company and its officials have been fully co-operating with the authorities during the course of the investigation and have provided all information and documents upon request. Based on a preliminary review of the charge sheet, it appears that the charge sheet focuses on an alleged conspiracy to attempt to cheat for acquiring certain land parcels belonging to the government/MSRDC. We deny all allegations made against Mr Mhaiskar, Mr Gadgil, AIIPL and the Company in this matter and will seek appropriate remedies under law,” the statement said.
Shetty’s brother Sandeep Shetty welcomed the chargesheet. “As of now, I have not seen the exact sections under which the accused have been chargesheeted, but I can say it is a positive step towards what we have been fighting for. The fact that these people have been named in the land scam
case, will strengthen the prosecution in the murder case,” he said.
No one has been charged with the murder of Shetty, who had complained of receiving threats a few days after he had filed the FIR. In November 2009, he had filed an application seeking police protection. The CBI took over the probe in the murder case in September 2010.
The agency moved Bombay High court in July 2013, for quashing of the closure report filed by Pune rural police in the land scam case in 2011. The CBI submitted there was enough material on record to chargesheet the accused. The HC ordered in CBI’s favour on November 19, 2013.
On August 8, 2014, CBI sought permission from the HC to reopen the land scam case filed by Shetty, saying that it may be linked to his murder. But, just in three days, the CBI filed a closure report in the murder case. The murder case was reopened in January 2015. In April last year, the CBI arrested retired police inspector Bhausaheb Andhalkar and retired assistant police inspector Namdev Kauthale, who were part of the crime branch of the Pune rural police.