Sunday, March 15, 2009

HC slams ex-CM for 'shielding' moneylender-Times reports

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HC slams ex-CM for 'shielding' moneylender

15 Mar 2009, 0155 hrs IST, Kartikeya, TNN

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has taken strong exception to former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's office asking the Buldhana district administration in Vidarbha to go easy on Gokulchanda Sananda, a moneylender and father of Congress MLA Dilipkumar Sananda, in 2006. The court has labelled the action "gross abuse of power''.

In May 2006, the money-lending prevention committee headed by Buldhana collector Ganesh Thakur registered an FIR against Gokulchanda alias "Dalwale Sheth" after receiving a complaint from a debt-ridden farmer, Rajendra Kavadkar. He charged Gokulchanda with robbery and kidnapping. The police also filed chargesheets in seven other criminal cases against the Sananda family.

The influential Sanandas have been involved in the moneylending business for years. While Dilipkumar is an MLA, his brother Ashok was leader of Congress in the Khamgaon Nagar Parishad.

According to petitioner Sarangdharsingh Chavan, within hours of Kavadkar's complaint, the chief minister's office intervened and his personal secretary Ajinkya Padwal contacted the police station asking it not to proceed against Gokulchanda. The fact that a call was made was noted down by the inspector in the station diary.

In June 2006, Thakur issued a letter under orders from Deshmukh asking the police not to take cognisance of further complaints against Dilipkumar's family without sending them for opinion to a district-level committee. The reason given was that "false and frivolous complaints were being made against the family of an MLA''.

Justice A H Joshi and A B Chaudhari said a committee could not be used to "dilute the powers of police'' to act against moneylenders and observed that had Chavan not filed the petition before the HC, no investigation would have been carried out against Gokulchanda at all.

Padwal tried saying that he had not contacted the Buldhana police asking them to go slow. But after going through the evidence, the judges held that someone did call up the police station and that too at the behest of Gokulchanda.

The court struck down instructions given by Deshmukh to refer the complaints to a panel. It also noted that whenever any farmer in Buldhana said he had withdrawn a complaint against Gokulchanda under duress, his grievance should be considered by the administration. The court imposed a token cost of Rs 25,000 on the state.

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