MUMBAI: State authorities may have kept mum about complaints regarding senior BJP leader and former minister Eknath Khadse amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income, but the Bombay High Court on Monday refused to dismiss a public interest litigation and asked the Maharasthra government to file an affidavit within three weeks explaining action taken in this regard.
Justices BR Gavai and MS Karnik refused to buy the argument on Khadse’s application to dismiss the PIL, that the allegations were politically motivated. Khadse said the information was selectively leaked to the press for a media trial against him and even tried to discredit the petitioners saying they were not bonafide.
Said petitioner is former Aam Aadami Party (AAP) spokesperson Anjali Damania, who along with a few others, had filed a 1,100-page petition against Khadse in July this year, with details of kickbacks the former minister had received in many scams. The PIL also elaborated on the number of properties that Khadse and his family members had allegedly held across the state.
Responding to the arguments of Khadse’s counsel Darius Khambata, Damani’s counsel Mihir Desai today brought to the court’s notice that the petitioners had filed complaints with several state authorities including the Income Tax commissioner, the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Enforcement Directorate and the Joint commissioner of the Economic Offences Wing before filing the PIL.
The bench then noted that since the state government had acknowledged receiving these complaints on November 10, 2016, the court is expected to find out what the state had done so far in response to the complaints.
“Serious allegations have been made on the affidavit by the petitioners. If we find that the state has taken required steps then we might not continue hearing the PIL. However, if we realise that the state has failed to take appropriate steps, this court cannot remain a silent spectator,” said justice Gavai.
Khadse is a powerful BJP leader in Maharashtra who had to quit last year in June because of allegations of impropriety in a Pune land deal. Soon after his resignation, the state government initiated a judicial inquiry against him and a report was recently submitted.
Khadse had been hoping to make a comeback to the state cabinet, expecting the report to have exonerated him. But it is yet to be placed before the legislature. Now with the Bombay High Court getting involved, Khadse’s political ambitions seem to have hit a wall for the time being.