Mumbai: In yet another setback for the Maharashtra government, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court recently discharged one private person, accused in the multi-crore irrigation scam pertaining to the Gosikhurd dam. The HC discharged him for want of ‘sufficient’ material.
Notably senior leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) including former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar have been arraigned as prime accused in the multi-crore irrigation scam.
Sunil Shinde (61), the then general manager of Hindustan Construction Company Limited was booked by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in May 2017 along with five senior officials of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC). He was booked for acting in connivance with the officials and hatching a criminal conspiracy to cause huge loss to the public exchequer in the process of implementation the Gosikhurd dam project.
The ACB had filed a chargesheet against Shinde and other accused in the case, including the five senior officials of the VIDC. The trial court, however, discharged the five senior officials, as the government failed to accord a proper sanction to prosecute them. The court but refused to extend a similar relief to Shinde and another private person, concluding it had enough material on record to prosecute them.
Aggrieved by this, Shinde moved a bench of Justice Manish Pitale seeking discharge on grounds of parity. He argued that since the main accused in the case, the five officials of VIDC were discharged, the trial court ought to have discharged him too.
Having heard the contentions, Justice Pitale discharged Shinde concluding that the trial court did not consider the material in proper manner.
“In the present case, although the trial court has come to the conclusion that the prosecution has undoubtedly made out a prima facie case against Shinde and that the material on record discloses existence of all required ingredients for the alleged offences. However, this finding, in my view, is based on erroneous appreciation of the material on record,” said Justice Pitale.
“On proper appreciation of the material on record, this Court is of the opinion that the only material against Shinde shows that it is not enough to raise grave suspicion against him. Thus, he deserves to be discharged as the material on record is not sufficient to force him to face the rigours of trial,” Justice Pitale ruled.