MUMBAI: In what can be termed as a major setback to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar, ahead of assembly elections in the state, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to interfere with the Bombay High Court orders last week to initiate investigation in the multi crore scam involving directors of Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB).
The Bombay High Court in its order dated August 22 had directed the police to register an FIR against over 70 directors of the MSCB and others, including Pawar, observing that they seemed to have “complete knowledge” that their actions would cause a huge loss to the bank. Several petitions requesting the intervention in the High Court orders were filed in the Supreme Court. The apex court had clubbed all these petitions and after hearing them the court declined to intervene in the case.
Instead the court has ordered the police to conduct “free and fair” probe.
A bench comprising of justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah heard the petitions challenging the Bombay High Court order. While disposing of the petition, the bench observed that the case involves huge money and investigation cannot be stopped.
The bench said the investigation will proceed ahead uninfluenced by the order and observation of the high court.
Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police on August 26 registered FIR against Ajit Pawar and others under Sections 420, 506 409 465, 467 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The other accused in the case include Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil and officials from the superseded bank’s units in 34 districts in the state who allegedly were complicit in causing losses worth Rs 1,000 crore to MSCB between 2007 and 2011.
They are accused of violating banking and RBI regulations while disbursing loans to sugar mills at very low rates and selling off assets of defaulter businesses at throw-away prices, forging records and figures to show the bank was making profits.
The scam was revealed during an inspection by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) following which a quasi-judicial enquiry commission under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies (MCS) Act was set up to probe it. The charge sheet filed by the commission had blamed the “decisions, actions and inactions" of Pawar and the other accused of the loss.
Following the action, Surinder Arora, an activist, had filed a complaint against Pawar and others with the EOW in 2015. He had approached the high court through his lawyer S B Talekar when no FIR was registered on his complaint.