It appears that courting corruption charges has become a trend for members of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Suresh Dhas, former minister of state for revenue
Days after a middleman, Vaibhav Andhale, was arrested outside the revenue department office at the World Trade Centre in Cuffe Parade for taking a bribe of R23 lakh, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) recovered a file from a former revenue minister of state’s official residence related to the matter.
Sources claimed ACB officials would soon be recording NCP leader Suresh Dhas’ statement in the matter, as they suspect him of signing the file at the last minute without mentioning the date.
Andhale, who was arrested on Tuesday along with another agent and a revenue department officer, was supposed to hand over the said file to a businessman, who had the power of attorney for an 18-acre property in Pune, but was unable to secure its rights.
“As the complainant did not wish to pay, he approached us. Based on his complaint, we laid a trap outside the revenue department office and nabbed Andhale and the others,” DGP Pravin Dixit (ACB) said.
The officials learnt that Andhale paid R1 lakh to Sanjay Suradkar, desk officer at the revenue department, and Rs 50,000 to his PA, Devidas Dahiphale, keeping the remaining R21.5 lakh himself.
“We suspect this amount was meant for someone with a higher post and are investigating the case from this angle. If required, we will call the ex-minister for his statement,” said an ACB official.
The complainant holds the power of attorney for a disputed 18-acre plot in Pune. After a hearing, the district collector passed an order against him. He then approached the appellate authority — in this case the revenue minister of state - as the relief and rehabilitation department falls under his ministry.
Based on the businessman’s application, the file was officially transferred from the collector’s office to the revenue ministry. After the ruling Democratic Front government quit last month, the file was supposed to be handed back to the department concerned. However, the ACB officials recovered it from the bungalow on October 28.
The other side
When contacted, Suresh Dhas claimed he vacated the bungalow on October 23 for which he received the receipt on October 27. “I only know that one of the arrested persons is from my constituency. And my connection with him ends there.
I have signed the file, but it was months ago; possibly three. It then went to my secretary, followed by the desk officer. I’m in no way connected to this matter, and want the police to investigate it thoroughly to unearth the culprits,” he said.