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CM Prithviraj Chavan faces flak from Anna Hazare over housing scheme scam

Anna Hazare accuses the Maharashtra CM of attempting to sabotage the probe in to the Gharkul housing scheme scam involving former housing minister Suresh Jain

The Maharashtra government faces further embarrassment over the abrupt move to remove two prominent prosecution lawyers, NK Suryawanshi and PP Chavan, representing the state in a graft case against former housing minister Suresh Jain.

Anna Hazare and Khadse have called the move a ‘setback to the prosecution’
Anna Hazare and Khadse have called the move a ‘setback to the prosecution’

In the letter to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, both Hazare and leader of the Opposition Eknath Khadse have called the move a ‘setback to the prosecution in general in Maharashtra’. “This is the clear attempt by the government to woo Jain and weaken the case,” Khadse told sunday mid-day. He has also filed an RTI seeking details of the case. mid-day had reported on Thursday how the government was attempting to weaken the case by removing the two lawyers.

In a further setback to the state, the report of the district magistrate and collector, Jalgaon, Rubal Agarwal has also been received by the home department. Sources said the reports, too, have backed the two lawyers. The report of the superintendent of police, Jalgaon, has also cleared the lawyers. The DM’s report says: “The role of the two lawyers has been positive in the case and must therefore the two must be continued.”

The home department in its report to the government on Friday said: “This is an important case, and nothing should be done to hamper the image of the government. The government should immediately reconsider
the decision.”

The changes were initiated ‘without taking a mandatory approval of the state home department, collector and district magistrate of Jalgaon’, which was the epicentre of the multi-crore alleged scam in the housing scheme. The observations of the Advocate General were also ignored.

This led to speculations that that the government shielded former Shiv Sena MLA Jain, a prime accused in the case, and attempted to woo him during the Lok Sabha polls. They were appointed with a common consensus of all departments on January 2, 2014.

Eknath Khadse alleged that Jain’s party has struck a deal with the Congress and NCP, who are now trying to shield the accused. “These two lawyers worked hard to ensure that Jain did not get bail in the past, while he was granted bail 12 times before the appointment of the duo. By getting rid of them the government has shown its double standards,” said Khadse.

The scam
The Gharkul scheme project had a total cost of Rs 78.89 crore for which Rs 59 crore was disbursed to the Jalgaon municipal council. This money was allegedly siphoned off in the name of advances. Jain allegedly used his influence to secure loans. There is a total misappropriation of Rs 47 crore and wrongful loss to the municipal council worth Rs 169 crore a total of Rs 216 crore.

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