HC seeks Maharashtra govt's reply to PIL on irrigation scam



Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday gave time to Maharashtra Government to respond to an affidavit filed by activist Praveen Wategaonkar with regard to his PIL questioning the validity of Special Investigating Team (SIT) formed to probe the irrigation scam.

A division bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and K K Tated were hearing the PIL filed by Wategaonkar, seeking a CBI probe against ministers and bureaucrats allegedly involved in the multi-crore scam.

Wategaonkar had recently filed an affidavit questioning the validity of the SIT. He has also sought to know if the SIT has any punitive powers.

According to the petitioner, the SIT members are knowledgeable about the water-related issues, but not about the punitive action that could be taken against the accused.

The bench deferred the matter to March 11 after directing the state to file a reply. Meanwhile, former journalist Ketan Tirodkar has also filed a PIL on the same issue. But the division bench today recused itself from hearing his petition.

Tirodkar pleaded that his PIL be heard along with Wategaonkar's. The court then directed the state government to tell at the next hearing if it would like to club the two PILs.

Wategaonkar's petition seeks an inquiry into cases where "idle charges" were paid to contractors, while withholding dues of the project-affected people and payments made towards forest land/forest clearances, etc, in Jamda and other KIDC projects till 2011-12.

PTI