SC castigates Deshmukh for shielding MLA



New Delhi: An anguished Supreme Court today came down heavily on Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh calling as "anachronistic" and "incongruous" his interference in shielding a Congress MLA's family from money lending complaints by poor farmers when he was Maharashtra Chief Minister.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly while "condemning" the action of Deshmukh in no uncertain terms with some hard hitting observations also enhanced to Rs 10 lakh the fine of Rs 25,000 imposed by the Bombay High Court on the Maharashtra government.

Observing that the message conveyed in this case is "extremely shocking", the court directed that the fine amount collected should be used for the welfare of the distressed farmers.

The court said the action of Deshmukh, now the Union Industries Minister, was condemnable as he acted beyond "all legal norms" for "political consideration" despite Vidharbha region having the dubious distinction of the largest number of farmers' suicides.

"This Court is extremely anguished to see that such an instruction could come from the Chief Minister of a State which is governed under a Constitution which resolves to constitute India into a socialist, secular, democratic republic.

"Chief Minister’s instructions are so incongruous and anachronistic, being in defiance of all logic and reason, that our conscience is deeply disturbed. We condemn the same in no uncertain terms," the bench said.

Deshmukh declined to react to the verdict saying he was yet to get the copy but said he will give a response once he gets it.

The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing the State Government's appeal challenging a High Court order which had held that Deshmukh acted in violation of the law by asking the District Collector Buldhana and the Khamgaon Police Station from registering cases against MLA Dilip Kumar Sananda and his family.

The incident related to Deshmukh's action as Chief Minister in May 2006 after cases were registered by the farmers of Vidharbha region led by Sarangdharsingh Shivdassingh Chavan that the MLA and the family were torturing the poor farmers for recovery and extracting 10 per cent monthly interest for lending loans.

"The message conveyed in this case is extremely shocking and it shocks the conscience of this Court about the manner in which the Constitutional functionaries behaved in the State of Maharashtra," the bench said.

It was stated that as many as 34 complaints were registered against the MLA and his family till June 28,2006, but due to Deshmukh's interference no subsequent cases were registered by the police forcing the distresses farmers to move the High Court.

"Considering the entire matter in its proper perspective, this Court is of the view that the way interference was caused first from the office of the Chief Minister by his Private Secretary by two telephone calls on 31.5.2006 and the manner in which District Collector was summoned by the Chief Minister on the very next day i.e. 1.6.2006 for giving instructions to specially treat any complaints filed against MLA Mr Dilip Kumar Sananda and his family has no precedent either in law or in public administration," the bench observed.

-PTI