Plea filed in Bombay HC over Maha minister’s flight trips, expenses

Mumbai: BJP media cell chief Vishwas Pathak on Friday filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court seeking direction to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) and three other state units to recover amounts he claimed were spent "illegally" on charter flights for state cabinet minister Nitin Raut.

Pathak's lawyer, on Friday, mentioned the plea before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni seeking urgent hearing on the plea.

The bench, however, refused saying "there is nothing urgent in this petition" and added that it was hearing urgent matters till April 30.

Pathak, in his PIL, said a person availed information under the Right to Information (RTI) from power generation and distribution companies, and based on which he alleged that during the COVID-19 lockdown, the minister used chartered flights on numerous occasions for "administrative work" and made the power companies pay the bills.

The PIL alleged Raut used chartered flights for several trips between Mumbai, Nagpur, Hyderabad and Delhi, for which the debt-ridden power companies were made to pay over Rs 40 lakh.

The plea said RTI queries made to MSEB revealed the minister had used chartered flights at the cost of Rs 14.45 lakh for two trips to Nagpur in June and July last year for "important administrative work".

"While most of the country's highest officials were performing their duties from remote and virtual setups, Raut flouted the existing norms on multiple occasions and took the liberty to travel around the country during lockdown period for his personal reasons under the pretext of administrative work," the PIL alleged.

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