Says MCOCA would be invoked against the guilty if evidence is strong enough; mentions Jitendra Awhad’s name for his alleged role in the case while addressing Assembly yesterday
Thane builder Suraj Parmar’s suicide rocked the ongoing Winter Session of the Legislative Assembly yesterday, with CM Devendra Fadnavis making an announcement that the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) would be slapped against the accused if evidence is strong enough to support the application of the stringent law.
Cracking the whip: CM Devendra Fadnavis and (left) builder Suraj Parmar. file pics
Four corporators have been booked in the case after Parmar had mentioned them in his multi-paged suicide note, stating that these politicians were harassing him for bribes in exchange of approvals for his housing projects.
The Assembly witnessed high drama in Nagpur yesterday morning after BJP legislators refused to back down from their demand of disclosure of the names of the corporators, particularly an NCP legislator who allegedly got Rs 1 crore transferred into his bank account from one of the accused corporators.
Debating a calling attention notice, the BJP legislators asked Fadnavis to name the legislator. Initially reluctant, the CM later said that NCP’s Mumbra-Kalva legislator Jitendra Awhad was the person they wanted to know all about.
“All of us have read the name in newspapers,” Fadnavis said before telling the house that investigations in the case were still being carried out by Thane police. “No political leader or official will be spared in the case,” he added, rejecting a demand for setting up a Special Investigations Team (SIT) for this case.
Fadnavis, however, denied that Parmar’s diary, which was seized by the police during the course of investigation, had names or abbreviations (ES and EK) that hinted at involvement of some influential leaders (of Shiv Sena and BJP).
He said the MCOCA could be applied to the accused only after it was proved that they are part of an organised crime and shared criminal history. To this, many legislators pointed out that many gangs comprising politicians, bureaucrats and builders were operating in a manner that fit the case under the stringent law.
Patil to the rescue
Since Awhad was not present in the house when the issue was debated, NCP’s group leader Jayant Patil came to his rescue saying that the money Awhad got was partner’s remuneration in the construction company of which he, Mulla and two others are partners. Patil said the high court did not take cognisance of the money transfer charge. But the CM said that the submissions made before the court were based on documents seized and information sought by the investigators.
Patil’s explanation was interrupted by BJP’s large bench strength in the house. While Congress fuelled the fire further when opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil demanded that transparency was needed in giving approvals to building projects. BJP’s Anil Gote and Dr Anil Bonde demanded a thorough inquiry.
Speaking to mid-day, Jitendra Awhad (in pic) yesterday accused the BJP government of pursuing political vendetta by submitting false information to the Bombay High Court. He said the money he received was a partner's remuneration in a company called Dream Realty.
“The CM and his party are playing dirty politics. Fadnavis should know very well that the power he holds now is not permanent. We also know what the BJP leaders are up to. What happens to Jitendra now could also happen to Devendra in future,” the former Cabinet minister said.
Awhad added that he would seek explanation from the government in the Assembly on Monday. “The government has not only defamed me, but has also set a bad precedent by telling the court wrong things about a sitting legislator. The government will have to answer me,” he said, adding that the government has been targetting him because he believed in ideology that is detrimental to BJP's divisive policy.
Awhad said he could not attend the ongoing session in the past two weeks because of party work and his father's illness. “When the session started I was busy in party functions in Delhi and Mumbai. And then my father took ill, and being the only son in the family, I had to attend to my father. I will attend the session from Monday,” he said.
Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare, appointed by the Thane police in the case, had told the Bombay High Court that R1 crore was transferred into Awhad's account from Najeeb Mulla's.