In a significant development for a company controlled by NCP MLA Rohit Pawar, the Bombay High Court has granted a stay on the FIR filed against Baramati Agro Ltd. The FIR alleged that the company had disobeyed an order issued by a public servant.
Rohit Pawar, who is the grandnephew of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and the nephew of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, saw his firm receive relief as the High Court took action. The division bench comprising Justices Nitin Sambre and RN Laddha has stayed the FIR until September 11, effectively suspending any further proceedings.
The court's decision came in response to a petition filed by Subhash Gulave, the company's executive director, who sought to quash the FIR altogether. The complaint leading to the FIR was lodged by BJP legislator Ram Shinde, who had lost to Rohit Pawar in the 2019 assembly elections from the Karjat-Jamkhed constituency.
The issue at hand dates back to a state cabinet meeting in September 2022, during which a decision was made to begin the crushing season for 2022-23 on October 15. The cabinet further stipulated that appropriate criminal action would be taken against factories found in violation of this decision.
Shinde accused Baramati Agro of starting sugarcane crushing on October 10, 2022, thereby not adhering to the government's directive. In response to Shinde's complaint, the sugar commissioner appointed a special auditor to investigate the allegations.
In the company's defense, Gulave's petition claims that the first auditor's factual report found no irregularities. However, the auditor was later suspended, and a new inquiry officer was appointed to look into Shinde's claims.
In December 2022, the second auditor submitted a report confirming Shinde's allegations, which ultimately led to the registration of the FIR. Gulave argues that the company was not provided with the first auditor's report and only became aware of its contents when a show cause notice was issued in March 2023.
Based on the FIR, the police have taken action under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to disobedience of an order duly promulgated by a public servant.
Now, seeking a resolution to the matter, Gulave has turned to the High Court, urging them to quash the FIR against Baramati Agro Ltd. The court's decision to stay the FIR indicates a temporary halt to any legal consequences until the specified date.