In response to a plea by former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Manik Jadhav to transfer the protest petitions being heard before a sessions court on the closure report filed by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in the multi-crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam case, the state government said that he has no locus standi to make such an application and has done so with the motive to sensationalize the issue.
It said the law is well-settled that the complainant -in this case, Surinder Arora- is entitled to be heard as a protest petitioner and that Jadhav is not the complainant in the EOW case. It is to be noted that Arora has also filed a protest petition against the closure report along with Jadhav, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and former Member of the Parliament (MP) Shalini Patil. The state pointed out that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had tried to intervene and file a protest petition to the closure report and that the presiding court had rejected its plea on the ground that it has no locus standi in the case.
The reply pointed out that Arora had already submitted his written arguments, which the court had taken on record. In the transfer plea, Jadhav had complained that the court seized presently with the matter had suspiciously taken the written arguments on record that were tendered by two unknown persons, when Satish Talekar, the advocate engaged by Arora, had objected to the same.
The state’s response said that the written arguments were signed and notarised by Arora and the court had rightly taken them on record. It called the allegations made by Jadhav against the judge as ‘false’ and ‘baseless’. It said that, earlier, unwanted aspersions were cast by Jadhav in a writ petition before the Bombay High Court, which the HC had expunged. It also denied the allegation of Jadhav that sufficient time was not given by the judge to study the investigation papers and said that more than sufficient time was given and that the record of proceedings bear testimony to the same.
Jadhav had alleged that the judge is showing personal involvement in the matter and is biased in support of the prosecution. The state denied this and said it is a ‘wrong impression’ of the applicant.
The FIR in the case had come to be lodged upon a public interest litigation of Arora, in which the HC had, in 2019, directed a probe into the alleged irregularities. Accused in the case are 71 political leaders cutting across party lines who held positions as directors in district co-operative banks. Among the accused are Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil. The 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 district co-operative banks. The EOW closure report had given a clean chit to the accused and stated that its probe did not reveal any irregularities in the loan transactions.