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Sharad Pawar, Manohar Joshi to depose before DPC probe body

March 31, 2003 20:41 IST

Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar and Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi are among the 54 witnesses who would depose before the Kurdukar commission that is probing the legality of the multi-crore Dabhol power project of US major Enron.

Pawar and Joshi, during their tenures as chief ministers of Maharashtra, took decisions relating to granting sanctions to the controversial project.

The commission on Monday drew up a list of 54 witnesses and decided to hear on April 9-10 all the issues that indicate prima facie that the project was vitiated by illegality by state and central government decision makers.

During these two days, the commission would also hear the parties on substantial issues surrounding Madhav Godbole committee report.

The commission also observed that it would issue summons to the witnesses on April 10 at the end of hearing of these crucial issues.

Sharad Pawar's lawyer N V Shah said the state government had relied upon the report of Godbole committee and in his submission the report was required to be proved and substantiated in accordance with law.

Justice S P Kurdukar, however, ruled that this objection would be considered during the course of hearing on April 9 and 10.

Prominent among the witnesses are former chief minister of Maharashtra Narayan Rane, former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde and former ministers, Padamsinh Patil, Liladhar Dhake and Sudhir Joshi. The then secretaries to the central and state governments and Enron Virodhi Andolan convenor Pradumyne Kaul would also depose.

Advocate for the Government of India A J Rana informed justice Kurdukar on Monday that he had been instructed on telephone by the power ministry and the attorney-general about the Centre's decision to file a suit under Article 131 in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of a notification issued by Maharashtra government appointing the commission.

The commission, had on March 24, held that it had the jurisdiction to probe Dabhol power project fiasco and also to go into the central approvals for the multi-crore project.

The Centre had contended before the Kurdukar commission that the first terms of reference in the gazette notification appointing the commission was constitutionally invalid since the state government could not interfere or trespass into the occupied area of the Union government in the field of electricity which fell in the concurrent list.

Justice Kurdukar had observed that it appeared to be a conflict between the Centre and the state in initiating an inquiry into the decision of central agencies.

However, he ruled that in view of a bar imposed by article 131 to go into the centre-state conflict over division of powers, the parties may approach the supreme court for resolution of the dispute.

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