Day after HC order, Ajit Pawar denies role in MSCB scam
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis says no accused in the case will be spared
Just a day after the Bombay High Court (HC) directed the police to file an FIR against former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and 75 others in the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) scam within five days, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA denied his involvement in the matter. "I did not attend the bank's meetings in the past five years. The court directives and notices come only when the elections approach," Pawar said. Reacting to the HC directive, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said no accused would be spared. "We will follow the court's direction," he added.
Most of the accused in the case belonged to the NCP while the others were associated with the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and other political parties when the probe started. Some of them passed away in the course of the investigation being conducted the Mumbai Police's Economic Offences Wing. Of the 77 MSC Bank directors, 56 belonged to the NCP alone. They have been accused of causing losses to the tune of '1,000 crore to the MSCB between 2007-11.
The rest are from the Shiv Sena, BJP, Congress and smaller parties. On August 22, a division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice S K Shinde maintained that there was prima facie credible evidence against the MSC Bank scam accused and asked EOW to file an FIR within five days under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. The bench said in its order, "Procedural delays and technicalities of law should not be allowed to defeat the object sought to be achieved by the (anti-corruption) Act. The overall public interest and social object are required to be kept in mind while interpreting various provisions of the Act and the cases under it."
After the scam surfaced, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) conducted an inspection and audit, following which then Chief Minister Prithiraj Chavan had dissolved the board of directors of the bank in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India and brought it under government administration. The dissolution of the board had created a rift between the Congress and NCP. A quasi-judicial inquiry commission under the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act had blamed Pawar and the other accused for the irregularities. But no criminal action was taken. Thereafter, Mumbai-based activist Surinder Arora had filed a complaint with the EOW in 2015 and approached the Bombay HC seeking justice.
The judges also noted that the inspection report disclosed that most of the directors had vested interest in the affairs of the institutes, which were given loans in violation of banking regulations. In addition to the MSC Bank scam, Pawar and some senior NCP leaders who held ministerial positions in the erstwhile governments also faced anti-corruption inquiry in the irrigation scam. There has been delay in probing the cases and filing reports to the HC, which is hearing multiple PILs in the irrigation scam. The leaders in power now had accused the NCP leaders of corruption in the irrigation department and handed the court evidences.
Year a Mumbai-based activist filed a complaint with EOW
Day HC directed to file an FIR against Ajit Pawar
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