Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave the go-ahead to the ACB for the probe against Pawar and state NCP president Sunil Tatkare in connection with alleged corruption and irregularities in execution of various irrigation projects during their tenure as Water Resource Ministers.
The Chief Minister also gave his approval to ACB’s proposal to conduct an open inquiry into allegations of corruption and favouritism against former Public Works Department(PWD) Minister Chhagan Bhujbal in construction of Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and two other government buildings in Mumbai built under Private Public Partnership.
The government has also ordered probe against irrigation department officials and contractors responsible for alleged irregularities.
“I have been authorised by Chief Minister of Maharashtra to state that he has cleared open inquiries by ACB against Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare and Chhagan Bhujbal,” Advocate General Sunil Manohar told the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court today.
Manohar said Fadnavis had asked the ACB to go ahead with the probe against the three top NCP leaders in the alleged scams in which several thousand crores of rupees were suspected to be siphoned off with the connivance of greedy contractors and pliant officials.
A division bench of the court comprising Justices Bhushan Gavai and V M Deshpande recorded his statement and disposed of PILs demanding investigation.
“When big-wigs are being probed along with officials and contractors, there is no point in keeping these petitions pending,” the court observed while making it clear that petitioners can always approach it again, if they are not satisfied with the inquiry.
The ACB had proposed open inquiries against Pawar and Tatkare in the irrigation scam, and Bhujbal in the Maharashtra Sadan scam.
Reacting to the government’s decision, Ajit Pawar said he had no issues over the probe and that “truth will come out”.
“It’s their (BJP’s) government. So they are free to do what they want. We do not have any problem with it. Truth will come out when the enquiry is done,” Pawar said.
Tatkare said NCP had been “clean” from day one and that they will extend “complete support” to the investigative agency.
The 43-day-old Fadnavis government no longer needs NCP’s outside support for survival after Shiv Sena joined the government, giving the new dispensation a complete majority in the Assembly.
However, Fadnavis said he had given the nod for probe almost a fortnight before Sena joined the government on December 5.
“The proposal(for probe) had come to us and we had sanctioned it earlier and the same thing we told the court as well,” he told reporters.