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Monday, August 10, 2020

Chavan bows to Rahul wish,but gives clean chit to politicians

The state govt indicated that it may form a panel to contemplate possible action.

Written by Stuti Shukla | Mumbai | Updated: February 6, 2014 3:04:06 pm

Six days after Rahul Gandhi asked the Maharashtra government to “reconsider” its rejection of the Adarsh panel report,Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Thursday announced that the report had been accepted.

Chavan promised action against bureaucrats who were indicted by the panel for violating service rules,but said there was no evidence of criminality by the politicians whom the committee had accused of extending “political patronage” to the violations.

“The judicial commission has not found any criminal offence against the six politicians that have been named for being guilty of political patronage. After analysing the report,we found no criminality. Two then serving ministers of state who have been named had not even handled a single file in this case. Therefore no action is expected against them on behalf of the state government,” Chavan said.

A senior official said the planned action announced by the chief minister was “more or less the same” as in the original draft Action Taken Report (ATR) that was to tabled in the assembly on December 20,but which was junked by the cabinet and replaced by a four-line ATR rejecting the findings of the commission.

The proposed action against the indicted officials would,however,be “minor”,a senior Congress minister said. The ball was in the court of the CBI and the Congress central leadership,the minister said.

“The state will not take action in this matter. The departmental punitive action against officials will be minor in nature. Now,it is for the CBI and senior Congress leadership including Rahul Gandhi to walk the talk,if they are really serious about fighting corruption,” the minister told The Indian Express.

The line taken by the government,however,implies that former chief minister Ashok Chavan,who has already been chargesheeted by the CBI for alleged quid pro quo,will continue to face the heat. The decision also,in a way,exonerates three other former chief ministers of Maharashtra,(now Home Minister) Sushil Kumar Shinde,the late Vilasrao Deshmukh and Shivajirao Nilangekar-Patil.

“A departmental inquiry under an able official will be constituted and action will be taken under provisions of the All India Service (Discipline & Appeal) Rules,1969,” Chavan said about the 12 bureaucrats indicted by the report.

There are five government servants among the 13 people chargesheeted by the CBI. “As per law,only one FIR can be filed in criminal cases pertaining to one particular incident. Therefore,criminal prosecution is not expected on the part of the state government in this regard and hence no separate FIR will be filed by the state,” Chavan said.

“We expect the CBI to prosecute those involved in the 22 benami transactions that have come to the fore. The money trail of these sales are being looked in to by the CBI. The process to cancel the membership of these 22 benami flats will be undertaken by the government as per law. Information will be given to CBI in this regard.”

Memberships of 25 members found ineligible will stand cancelled. “Moreover,action will be taken against those responsible for wrongfully granting membership permission to ineligible persons,” Chavan said.

Alleged violations by the Adarsh society will be probed by relevant government departments. However,Chavan gave no time-frame for the action.

“The commission report states that the land falls under coastal regulation zone-II and it was mandatory to acquire the permission of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority of the union Ministry of Environment and Forests. Moreover,requisite permission to utilize additional FSI was not taken. While state had clearly stated that there was violation of CRZ norms and that unauthorized construction must be demolished,the Adarsh housing society filed a writ petition against this in the Bombay High Court and hence the matter is sub judice,” the chief minister said.

Ironically,while the government has left it to the CBI to go after the guilty,it has also challenged CBI’s jurisdiction to investigate the scam. “CBI has asked for our cooperation and we have given them all the files… CBI has asked us to suspend certain officials,and we have suspended them… However,ownership of the land and CBI’s jurisdiction is being contested by the state government in the court,” Chavan said.

The Adarsh commission too had left the next course of action undefined. “…Since the chargesheet has been filed and (is) pending before the court we feel it unnecessary and redundant to consider the question whether Prevention of Corruption Act would be attracted. The special court is already aware of the matter and it would not be proper for the commission to make any expression on the matter. It would be a futile exercise,” it had said.

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