New Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar will not only have to tackle political challenges but also face legal trouble. The Bombay High Court will hear on July 21 a PIL filed by advocate Nanasaheb Jadhav seeking criminal action against the Deputy CM, his uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar and party leader Supriya Sule for their role in alleged irregularities in the development of the Lavasa hill station.
Jadhav filed a praecipe (a written request for an action) seeking urgent hearing before a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Arif Doctor on July 12, alleging that as Ajit Pawar has become Deputy CM he could use his power to tamper with the “relevant documents”.
"Since Ajit Pawar became deputy CM, this PIL needs urgent hearing"
“Ajit Pawar recently became the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra. Now there is a threat that respondent Ajit Pawar and others will use their power to hamper relevant documents. Therefore, this PIL needs urgent hearing,” read the praecipe.
Jadhav had earlier filed a PIL seeking to declare the special permission granted by Development Commissioner (Industries) to develop Lavasa as void, arbitrary, unreasonable, undue political favouritism, breach of trust and bad in law. The PIL sought the quashing of the special permission granted to the Lake City Corporation to purchase land for the private hill station Lavasa.
The high court, on February 26, 2022, disposed of the PIL. It observed that it seems there was exertion of “influence and clout” of the Pawar family in the development of Lavasa as a hill station. However, it refused to interfere with this because of the “gross delay” in the filing of the plea and considering that “third party rights have been created”.
Hence, Jadhav filed a criminal PIL last year seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged irregularities. As the PIL has not come up for hearing, Jadhav sought urgent hearing expressing apprehension regarding tampering of the documents.
Ajit Pawar was the Minister for Irrigation and ex-officio chairman of the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC) at the time. He was a part of the meeting that granted clearance to the proposed dam that was critical in the supply of water to Lavasa.
“As the Minister for Irrigation and holder of a constitutional office by virtue of which he was the chairman of the MKVDC, it was the solemn duty of Ajit Pawar to disclose his direct or indirect interest in the matter,” the high court had observed in February 2022.