High Court ticks off ED, ACB for slow probe against Tatkare
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday castigated the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for tardy probe against former Maharashtra minister and senior NCP leader Sunil Tatkare who is facing allegations of money laundering and land grabbing.
A Division Bench of Justices NH Patil and SB Shukre was hearing a PIL filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kirit Somaiya, seeking a CBI probe into alleged money laundering and land grabbing by several companies floated by Tatkare and his relatives.
Following the filing of the PIL in 2012, the High Court had directed ED and ACB to conduct an inquiry into the allegations and submit reports.
"How long will you (ED and ACB) take to complete the inquiry? It has been three years. What have you done in three years? Since the petition has been filed all that we have been doing is collecting envelopes with reports in it. Tell us whether you have arrived at any conclusion," the Bench said.
It added: "This is going on endlessly. At this <g data-gr-id="36">rate</g> your inquiry will never end. By now, you should have arrived at some conclusion whether there is prima facie material against Tatkare or not. We are not a court of inquiry to hear the matter endlessly."
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh and government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani, appearing for ED and ACB, respectively, told the court that the agencies had begun conducting an open inquiry in this regard only six months ago and would require three more months to complete the work.
Seeking the dismissal of the PIL, Tatkare's counsel Aspi Chinoy argued that the PIL is not maintainable as the petitioner has the option to either approach the police to lodge an FIR or go to a magistrate court.
The High Court, then, adjourned the matter for two weeks and directed Somaiya to consider approaching police or ACB to lodge an FIR.
Somaiya has listed 51 companies, which he claimed were floated by <g data-gr-id="37">Tatkare</g> with his kin and friends as directors on them. The BJP leader also alleged that these companies purchased land parcels in Maharashtra under <g data-gr-id="38">benami</g> transactions and indulged in money laundering, thus causing huge losses to the public exchequer.
Tatkare, who headed the water resources portfolio in the erstwhile Democratic Front (DF) government, had dismissed the allegations against him as false, malicious and politically motivated in his reply affidavit.