Ajit Pawar
Ajit Pawar

The Maharashtra government on Monday raised a preliminary objection to the petition filed by an activist in the Bombay High Court against the clean chit given to Ajit Pawar and other accused in the alleged multi-crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam.

A bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Manish Pitale posted the hearing till March 22 with a directive to state's advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to file a detailed reply in the matter.

The bench was hearing a fresh petition filed by activist Surinder Arora through his counsel Satish Talekar seeking to transfer the probe in the matter to the CBI. He challenged the clean chit and the C-summary (closure report) filed by the economic offences wing of the city police in the case, giving a clean chit to Ajit Pawar and 75 other accused including directors of several cooperative banks.

Opposing the plea, AG Kumbhakoni told the judges that Arora's protest petition against the closure report is already pending in the sessions court.

"A detailed probe was conducted after which the EOW filed a closure report before the sessions court. The probe was conducted after the orders of this court in 2019 on a similar plea filed by the same petitioner (Arora)," the AG said.

"It was their prayer in that plea of 2019 to transfer the probe to the CBI. This court, however, refused to handover the probe directly to the central agency and instead had first ordered a preliminary probe by the EOW and we have complied with the orders," the AG added.

Having considered the submissions advanced by the AG, the judges asked him to file a detailed response in the matter highlighting this preliminary objection, before the next date of hearing, which is on March 22.

Notably, a bench led by Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari had in 2019 while disposing of Arora's petition had ordered the EOW to initiate a probe in the matter.

As per Arora, the present deputy CM -Ajit Pawar, while his stint as a finance minister of the state during the UPA regime had misused his office and manipulated the functioning of the state cooperative banks causing of loss to the public exchequer.

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