The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh for preventing the police from registering a criminal case against a Congress legislator's moneylender father and imposed a staggering Rs 10 lakh fine on the state government.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly rebuked Deskmukh saying, "The former CM should not have interfered with the criminal justice system."
The apex court fined the Maharashtra government while dismissing its appeal challenging the Rs 25,000 imposed on it as cost by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court.
The HC had imposed the fine on March 5, 2009, on a petition by Buldhana district farmers alleging that the police refused to register a criminal case against Congress legislator Dilipkumar Sananda's father Gokulchand Sananda, a private money-lender. It had imposed the fine after finding "gross interference from the executive" in shielding a private financier belonging to the ruling party.
It had indicted the state government after finding that the erstwhile CM's private secretary Ajinkya Padwal had twice called up the Khamgaon city police station in Maharashtra on May 31, 2006, to enquire about a complaint against the Congress legislator Sananda's father Gokulchand Sananda. The HC also found that Deshmukh's secretary had also asked the policemen not to take action on the complaint against Sananda. Deshmukh is currently the Union heavy industries minister.
The complaint had been filed by Sarnagdharsingh Chavan and his brother Vjaysingh Chavan, who had said they took a loan from Sananda, but were unable to pay it back due the exorbitant interest he levied. The two brothers also said they took the loan after pledging their farm land to him and their failure to pay back the loan has resulted in confiscation of their land.
The court later indicted the state government, while adjudicating the lawsuit filed by the Chavan brothers, who had also alleged that legislator Sananada met Deshmukh on June 1, 2006, seeking protection for his father against criminal prosecution.
Chavan had told the HC that on Sananda's plea, Deshmukh summoned the Buldhana district collector and asked him not to take any action against Sananda and other moneylenders in the district without consulting the higher authorities.
The Buldhana district collector, in turn, conveyed these instructions, orally issued by Deshmukh, to the district's superintendent of police. A letter of the district collector came on the records of the high court. In its lawsuit, the state government told the apex court that the so-called public interest litigation was filed with support of Bhausaheb Phudnkar, leader of opposition in the state legislative council, who belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The state government had denied that Deshmukh's secretary had called up the police station. It, however, had admitted that Deshmukh had a meeting with the Buldhana district collector, but that was only to instruct him that action against moneylenders should be taken as per due process of law and it should not be based on motivated complaints.