Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday gave nod for the investigation against former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and former water resources minister Sunil Tatkare in the alleged multi-crore irrigation scam in Maharashtra. The probe will also extend to roles of all contractors and officials involved in the irrigation scam.
The government has also given consent to the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe alleged irregularities against former senior public works department minister Chhagan Bhujbal in construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi.
Although the decision came into light on Friday following advocate general Sunil Manohar’s submissions to the Nagpur court, Fadnavis had given permission to ACB to probe Pawar, Tatkare and Bhujbal after taking charge as chief minister on October 31. Fadnavis’ decision to begin open inquiries against NCP big wigs was taken even before the Shiv Sena had joined the BJP government.
When Indian Express asked Fadnavis he confirmed, ” I had given the permission to the ACB to proceed in corruption cases last month. The government is committed to combat corruption.”
The government’s decision was conveyed by the advocate general Sunil Manohar to the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Friday. “I have been authorised by Chief Minister of Maharashtra to state that he has cleared open inquiries by ACB against Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare and Chhagan Bhujbal,” Manohar said.
A division bench of the court comprising Justices Bhushan Gavai and V M Deshpande recorded his statement and disposed of PILs demanding investigation.
“When big-wigs are being probed along with officials and contractors, there is no point in keeping these petitions pending,” the court observed while making it clear that petitioners can always approach it again, if they are not satisfied with the inquiry.
The developments clearly upset the leaders of the NCP. NCP chief Sunil Tatkare said, “The charges of corruption are baseless. The state special investigative commission which probed the irrigation projects have not found any charge of corruption against me.”
Reacting to the development, Bhujbal said, “The decisions are always politically motivated. Unless proved why hold us guilty.” Pawar also dismissed the charge against him as “baseless”.
According to Pravin Wategaonkar, who pursued the irrigation scam, “The developments shows Fadnavis government is committed to fight corruption. I welcome the government’s bold decision to take the matter to its logical end.” The former chief minister Prihviraj Chavan did not display the political courage to act against NCP ministers in corruption cases.