Free Press Journal

HC to ACB: Why aren’t you lodging FIR in ‘scam’


Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today asked the state Anti-Corruption Bureau as to why it was dithering in lodging an FIR in an alleged scam involving the bidding for building a highway toll collection centre in Navi Mumbai.

A bench of justices R V More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi posed the query while making a stinging observation against the state government and wondering if the government is in “hand in glove with the accused persons.” “Prima facie it appears that the government is hand in glove with the accused persons,” Justice More said.

The division bench made the observation while hearing a plea by activist Pravin Wategaonkar alleging bias and breach of rules in the tendering process for building the Khargar toll collection centre on the Sion-Panvel highway in Navi Mumbai.

The state government had earlier this month told the court that it had given permission to the ACB to conduct an “open inquiry” into the alleged scam. The division bench, however, today said the ACB should first lodge an FIR in the case and then conduct the inquiry. “The ACB first conducted preliminary enquiry in the matter and then asked for permission from the government to conduct open inquiry. The government after much delay granted the permission. Why are you (ACB) not filing the FIR directly and then inquiring into the scam?” the court asked.

The court then posted the matter for further hearing on March 27, when the ACB will have apprise the court of its decision.

The ACB had earlier told the court it has already conducted a preliminary enquiry into the allegations last year and had then sent letters to the state government seeking permission to carry out an open enquiry “The construction of the highway, the toll collection and so on are connected with the state PWD, MSRDC and other private and government agencies. Also, the process of tendering, construction and so on involved highly technical issues, hence an open enquiry is necessary before appropriate action is taken against persons involved, if any,” ACB had said.