Mumbai: A plea has been filed before the principal judge, Sessions court for the protest petitions against the closure report filed by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the city police in the multi-crore Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) case to be heard before another court as the applicant fears ‘bias’ by the present court.
The applicant Manikrao Jadhav is among the few individuals including original complainant Surinder Arora who had filed pleas before a special court opposing the closure report filed by the EOW in the court. It was upon Arora’s PIL that the Bombay HC in 2019 had ordered an FIR into the scam.
Jadhav has said in his application that he apprehends that the matter will not be decided in all fairness if heard by the present judge and that his conduct appears biased. While doing so, it narrated an instance of 20 April when the court “suspiciously” took final written arguments on record on behalf of Arora that were filed by two unknown persons who had entered the courtroom despite the advocate for Arora, Satish Talekar, who also represents the other protest petitioners in the same case, strongly objecting to the same.
The plea also said that the court had refused additional time for Arora to go through voluminous documents that ran into over 74,000 pages though he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized. The court had apparently said that he seems to have recovered and there was no need to give additional time as the hearing will be through video-conference. “The applicant fails to understand how the Ld. Judge is so hostile for granting additional time to the applicants to go through papers of the investigation which is not a mechanical exercise. The 74,784 papers are not merely photographs or paintings... and cannot be looked into or dissected in a day or two,” it said.
The plea further said that the judge is showing great hurry to hear and finish the matter and is showing “personal involvement” in it. The petitioner is convinced, it said further, that either the judge has developed prejudice against them or is trying to favour the prosecution.
Accused in the case are several political leaders cutting across party lines who held positions as directors in district co-operative banks. Among the accused are deputy CM Ajit Pawar and Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil. These banks allegedly gave illegal loans to sugar factories and then sold the latter to their own kith and kin at throw-away prices when they were unable to repay the loans, thus causing loss to the bank. The EOW closure report had given a clean chit to the accused stating that its probe did not reveal any irregularities in the loan transactions.