Senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Dhananjay Munde on Friday got a reprieve from the Supreme Court, which stayed a Bombay High Court order for registration of a case against him over alleged illegalities in the purchase of government land. Munde is also the Leader of Opposition in the state’s legislative council.
On June 11, the Aurangabad bench of the high court had ordered the filing of an FIR against Munde and 14 others within four days, while hearing a petition that had alleged that the NCP leader had illegally purchased a state-owned land for his sugar factory in Beed.
The petitioner, Rajabhau Phad, had approached the HC contending that land in Ambejogai tehsil of Beed belonged to the state, and had been given to the Belkhandi Math (in Beed) as a ‘gift’ to its chief priest or mahant.
On Friday, a vacation bench of the SC, comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Surya Kant, stayed the high court order while hearing Munde’s plea.
However, on Friday morning, before the Supreme Court ordered the stay, the Bardapur police station in Beed had lodged an FIR under sections 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 464 (false document), and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the Indian Penal Code against Munde and the others.
While seeking a response from the Maharashtra government and the complainant over Munde’s plea, the top court, however, declined to go into the merits of the case for now.
“I welcome the decision. The truth has prevailed,” Munde said. The NCP leader has argued that the land was purchased following the due process of law and that the complaint against him was a part of a political vendetta.
Sharad Pawar holds marathon meeting
In a bid to overcome internal fissures and stall defections from the party, NCP president Sharad Pawar has decided to personally hold district-wise consultation. On Friday, Pawar chaired a ‘marathon’ meeting with party leaders from north Maharashtra districts. In the Lok Sabha election, the NCP drew a blank in this region.
A fear of mass defections has gripped the NCP after the poll drubbing in the Lok Sabha. With seat sharing talks with the Congress for the upcoming state poll likely to take place soon, a senior leader said Pawar also reviewed the party’s position in each of the Assembly segments in the region. Leaders from Ahmednagar, Nashik, Malegaon, Nandurbar, Dhule, and Shirdi were present.