Gujarat govt backs 'tainted' minister in HC



Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government on Tuesday supported Minister of State for Fisheries Purshottam Solanki by re-affirming its decision not to grant sanction to prosecute him in an alleged Rs 400-crore scam during hearing on a petition in the High Court.

Solanki has challenged in the HC sanction of his prosecution by Governor Kamla Beniwal overruling the State Government, which had rejected an application in this regard filed by one Ishaq Maradia three years ago.

"The Government is clear in its stand - the decision taken on June 26, 2012, rejecting Ishaq Maradia's application requesting sanction to prosecute Minister - is legal and Constitutionally valid," Government Pleader Prakash Jani said.

He made the submission before Justice R H Shukla, who was hearing a petition of Solanki, challenging the Governor's July 26 decision to allow his prosecution under different sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) in the alleged scam related to award of fishing contracts.

On August 16, the HC asked the Government to clarify whether it supports the Minister or Beniwal on the prosecution issue. "The Governor's decision is clearly against legal and Constitutional provisions; it is unconstitutional and the Government is not supporting this decision," asserted Jani.

In 2009, Maradia had sought, by way of an application, the Government's nod to prosecute Solanki.

Maradia has accused Solanki of indulging in corruption by granting fishing contracts without tendering process and causing a loss of over Rs 400 crore to the state exchequer. Maradia was interested in bidding for the contracts.

But the Council of Ministers, headed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, twice rejected his plea for sanction.

Following Governor's decision, Maradia filed a complaint in a Special Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Court in Gandhinagar against the Minister. Special ACB Judge on August 3 directed the Gandhinagar Superintendent of Police (SP) to conduct an inquiry and submit a report by October 6.

Hearing on the petition is likely to continue tomorrow when Maradia's counsel will make his submissions.

PTI