MSCB scam: Original informant seeks to be heard in plea for transfer of protest petitions to another judge

In a move that makes the rift between the protest petitioners against the closure report filed by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam clear, the original informant in the case Surinder Arora has sought to be heard in the application filed by another protest petitioner and former MLA Manik Jadhav before the principal judge of the sessions court for transfer of the hearing of the protest petitions to another court.

The former MLA had said in his transfer application filed on 26 April that the present court conducting the matter was biased and in favour of the prosecution. He had mentioned an instance of 20 April when the judge had taken written arguments on record from two unknown persons who were not officially Surinder Arora’s advocates, despite opposition from Arora’s then advocate Satish Talekar. On 3 May, Arora discharged Talekar from his service by a letter.

Arora, through his newly-engaged advocate Nitin Shukla, told the principal judge’s court on Thursday that he being one of the protest petitioners in the matter, any order passed in the present transfer plea will affect his rights. He sought time to file an intervention application.

Advocate Satish Talekar, who had represented Arora in the Bombay High Court in his PIL that had led to the HC in 2019 ordering a probe into the scam, on Thursday opposed Arora’s plea to be heard. Talekar was representing all the five protest petitioners including Arora in the sessions court, but will now represent all except Arora. Representing former MLA Manik Jadhav, one of the five protest petitioners advocate Talekar told the court that Arora is not a necessary party to the transfer proceedings.

Principal judge SB Agarwal noted that five protest petitions are pending before the present court conducting the matter. It said that if an order in favour of Jadhav is passed in the transfer application, even those protest petitions would get transferred to some other judge and hence, not just Arora, but even other protest petitioners may be affected. It said that an opportunity to Arora to file an intervention application deserves to be granted.

Jadhav then sought that the proceedings at the present court on the protest petitions be stayed till his transfer plea is heard. The court declined the relief and said that in its view if despite pendency of this transfer application if either party files a document or application the present court would have no option but to take it on record.

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.

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