There’s good news for Eknath Khadse, who quit the state Cabinet in the wake of a series of allegations on June 4. The senior BJP leader will not face a probe under a tedious and long process of the Commission of Inquiry Act, but a retired high court judge will investigate him in a judicial inquiry within three months.
This means that Khadse, if found not guilty, will be able to return to the Cabinet much before the Winter Session of the state legislature in December. And even if he is found responsible in some manner in any of the matters that are investigated, the government reserves the right to reject the judicial inquiry’s report. It has happened in the past.
Any inquiry that is held under the Commission of Inquiry Act takes years to complete. It also allows anyone to appear before the commission and produce documents against the accused.
A similar inquiry was conducted in the Adarsh housing scam, but its report rejected in the first attempt was partially accepted, when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had expressed his displeasure over rejection by the then CM Prithviraj Chavan.
Sources said the inquiry will specifically deal with a charge, that the ex-minister has used his office to buy land owned by the MIDC in its Bhosri (Pune) estate, for his family (his wife and son-in-law).
The MIDC has said that the land in question was in its possession for long and the deal between the Khadse family and the land’s original owner was illegal.
The opposition, civil activists and some local builders, had raised the charge against Khadse, following which he resigned as the minister of revenue and from nine other departments.
On the day of Khadse’s resignation, CM Devendra Fadnavis had announced that a retired high court judge will conduct an inquiry. He said on Saturday that charges against his party colleague were false and the ex-minister will come out clean. He had dismissed all other allegations against Khadse as baseless.
On Monday, Fadnavis told media persons that the name of the judge would be announced late in the evening. The official announcement had not been made till this report went to print.