The Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will probe the land deal case against BJP leader Eknath Khadse.
The government also assured the court that an FIR will be registered against the accused and that the investigation will be carried out ‘expeditiously and independently’.
State government counsel Niteen Pradhan informed the division bench of Justices RV More and Revati Mohite Dere today that the Pune police, which was earlier investigating the case, will not be able to probe the case falling under Prevention of Corruption Act.
"The investigation into the case against Khadse and his family members will be transferred to ACB. An FIR will be lodged against the accused persons," Pradhan said.
The government's decision to transfer the probe to ACB comes after the High Court had during earlier hearings
expressed displeasure over the manner in which the local police was handling the investigation.
The High Court had earlier said that if the government was not willing to transfer probe to ACB then it would pass appropriate orders.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by activist Hemant Gavande.
The petitioner alleged that Khadse, during his tenure as revenue minister, purchased a three-acre plot at Bhosari in Pune owned by Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) in the name of his kin for Rs 3.75 crore as against the market price of Rs 40 crore.
The state government had earlier set up a judicial commission, headed by retired Justice Dinkar Zoting, to probe the allegations against Khadse.
The High Court today said the ACB should carry out the probe "expeditiously and independently". It also said that the ACB should not let the previous findings of the Pune police and the judicial commission affect its investigation.
The court said the probe will be supervised by ACB's Additional Director General.
The HC posted the petition for further hearing on April 3 and asked the ACB to inform it about the progress in the probe by then.
In February this year, the state had told the HC that Pune police had not detected any "prima facie cognizable offence" in the case.
Khadse had quit the Devendra Fadnavis ministry in June last year in the wake of graft allegations, including
irregularities in the Pune MIDC land deal. He had denied allegations of wrongdoing.
With PTI Inputs