The Bombay High Court suggested the petitioner, who is seeking to register an FIR against the Pawar family in the Lavasa case, to consider filing a private complaint before a magistrate. The court noted that political pressure can influence the police, but not a magistrate.
On Wednesday, a division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhayaya and Justice Arif Doctor said it was not willing to exercise its powers to direct registration of FIR against the Pawar family since the PIL petitioner, advocate Nanasaheb Jadhav, has an alternate remedy to approach the magistrate with a private complaint.
“I can under and they (Pawar family) are highly influential. They can influence police but not magistrate,” said Chief Justice Upadhayaya.
The Bombay High Court was hearing the criminal PIL seeking criminal action against Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, his uncle and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and MP Supriya Sule for their alleged role in the irregularities in the development of Lavasa hill station. The litigation also sought CBI probe into the alleged irregularities.
In July, Jadhav sought an urgent hearing in the PIL alleging that since Ajit Pawar has become deputy chief minister, there was a threat that he will use his power to “hamper the relevant documents”.
The bench said that the petitioner should first file a complaint either with the police or with the CBI to probe the alleged irregularities.
Jadhav, who argued the case in person, said that he had filed a complaint with the police commissioner of Pune; however, no action was taken. He said that the high court had the power to direct the CBI to investigate the matter.
“Section 226 (Code of Criminal Procedure — CrPC ) gives power to the court to direct investigation,” Jadhav said.
To this the bench said it has the power to direct investigation but it was not willing to exercise the power unless the petitioner exhausts other remedies available.
“Why should we exercise our power which can be easily be done by magistrate. File a private complaint. We are not saying we don’t have power. But why should we?” CJ asked.
When Jadhav said the respondents in the PIL were “highly influential” and that he faced threat to his life, the bench said that the influential persons cannot wield authority over a magistrate.
Jadhav pointed out that earlier a plea was filed against the same respondents in a case relate to State Co-Operative Bank and the court had directed to register an FIR against them.
“You have to satisfy the court why you cannot go before a magistrate. I can understand prospective respondents are influential and can wield some authority before police but not before magistrates,” Chief Justice Upadhayaya added.
As far as threat perception was concerned, the Bombay High Court asked Jadhav to file an appropriate petition highlighting the issue.
“For that (threat), you file a separate petition. We will look into it. Evaluate threat perception and issue directions. But ask us to direct to register FIR, we will not,” Chief Justice Upadhayaya emphasised.
Jadhav, a Nashik resident, pointed out to the out that the matter pertains to Pune and hence he will have to file a private complaint before a Pune Magistrate. He said it was neither “physically possible” nor “financially sound” for his to travel to Pune from Nashik for very hearing if he filed a complaint with a magistrate there.
The bench retreated that if he could come to Mumbai from Nashik then he could travel to Pune as well.
However, following a request from Jadhav the Bombay High Court has kept the matter for hearing on October 18.
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 quashing the special permission granted to the Lake City Corporation to purchase lands for private hill station Lavasa.
The Bombay High Court, on February 26, 2022, disposed of the PIL observing that there seemed exertion of “influence and clout” of the Pawar family in the development of Lavasa as a hill station, however, it refused to interfere with the same due to “gross delay” in the filing of the plea and considering that “third party rights have been created”.