State sits on proposals to prosecute 381 corrupt officials

Anti-Corruption Bureau wants to file chargesheets against the government officials, but the state has not yet given the go-ahead; 97 of the cases are from the home department, which is under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis

Corrupt babus are still to be brought to book after having been caught in the act – simply because the state government has not permitted the police to do their duty. The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is awaiting the state’s permission to file chargesheets against 381 corrupt babus.

The home department, led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, has the maximum number of pending ACB proposals. File pic
The home department, led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, has the maximum number of pending ACB proposals. File pic

This, after the BJP-led government came into power promising to act against corrupt officials. The ACB had arrested 381 officials from various departments of the state government for corruption. After the babus secured bail in court, the police need to secure permission from the respective departments in order to file chargesheets and prosecute the accused in the cases.

Pankaj Bhujbal Sameer Bhujbal
Pankaj and (right) Sameer Bhujbal

However, the government seems to have not acted in the matter. In fact, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis wrote on social networking website, Twitter, that he had cleared the way for the ACB to do its duty. “All cases against public servant submitted to me by ACB to seek various permissions, have been cleared.

100% pendency cleared,” reads his tweet on December 23. However, the home department, which is under Fadnavis, has 97 cases - the maximum number of proposals awaiting governmental sanction (see table).

Roaming free
Apart from this, nearly 175 babus who were caught taking bribes by the ACB are still roaming scot-free in their departments. The government has not suspended them, despite the ACB’s requests and reminders.

This makes life difficult for the people who helped trap the accused, since the corrupt babu will now hold a grudge against the complainant. The courts convicted around 18 people after ACB’s arrests and subsequent court cases, but the state is yet to terminate or dismiss them from the services.

The government has also been lackadaisical in its approach to inquiries 20 of them are still open and awaiting government permissions. These include ones involving former Cooperatives Minister Harshvardhan Patil from the Congress, Ujjwal Uke, an IAS officer and now principal secretary of the women and child department, and former NCP MLA Laxman Dhoble.

The CM’s appointment of IAS officer Pravin Darade as his secretary had also shocked several senior officers, as Darade is already facing an ACB inquiry for allotting industrial plots for residential use. The only silver lining here is that inquiries against former PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal in Maharashtra Sadan scam, and former deputy CM Ajit Pawar in the irrigation scam have been cleared.

The state is also sitting on attached property worth Rs 193 crore: these includes properties in the names of Anandrao Jeevane, deputy secretary of urban development department, Rajesh Dhanawade, a police inspector, Narhari Sanap, Santosh Jadhav, Yuvraj Bangar, all tehsildars, and Nitish Thakur, a deputy collector.

ACB summons Bhujbal’s son, nephew
ACB has summoned Sameer Bhujbal, nephew, and Pankaj Bhujbal, son, of former PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal to investigate into the new Maharashtra Sadan scam. The duo has been asked to appear before the ACB on Friday and Saturday respectively. If required, Chhagan Bhujbal himself may also be summoned.

BJP had alleged that the scam involving construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan building in New Delhi and two buildings in Mumbai ran into Rs 5,000 crore. Bhujbal allegedly awarded construction contracts to companies in which his son and nephew were directors.

BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had approached the ACB and Aam Aadmi Party leader Anjali Damania filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court regarding the matter. “I have submitted documents to the ACB showing money laundering and FEMA violations to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore.

The scam runs into several thousand crores. I am sure an FIR will be filled soon by the ACB,” said Somaiya. ACB sources said they got permission to carry out the open inquiry against the formed minister in December. The ACB’s special investigative team has to submit a status report to the HC on February 28.

ACB speak
“We are following up in the pending cases and sending reminders to the government. We are hopeful of getting a positive response from them and that the files will be cleared,” said Praveen Dixit, director general of police, ACB.

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