Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today castigated the Enforcement Directorate and Anti-Corruption Bureau for a 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 N H Patil and S B Shukre was hearing a PIL filed by BJP leader Kirit Somaiya seeking a CBI probe into alleged money laundering and land grabbing by various companies floated by Tatkare and his relatives. Following filing of the PIL in 2012, the HC had directed ED and ACB to conduct 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 since 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.
“This is going on endlessly. At this rate 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,” it said.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh and Government Pleader Abhinandan Vagyani, appearing for the ED and ACB, respectively, told the court that the agencies had begun conducting open inquiry in this regard only six months back and would require three more months to complete the inquiry.
Seeking dismissal of the PIL, Tatkare’s counsel Aspi Chinoy argued 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 HC then adjourned the matter for two weeks and directed Somaiya to consider approaching police or ACB to lodge FIR. Somaiya has listed 51 companies which he claimed were floated by Tatkare with his kin and friends as directors on them.
The BJP leader also alleged that these companies purchased land parcels in Maharashtra under benami transactions and indulged in money-laundering thus causing loss 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.