High Court to govt: Reply to impartial panel plea

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 08 Januari 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday directed the state government to reply to a public interest litigation seeking appointment of an impartial commission to probe the irrigation scam. Alternatively, it has also sought a CBI inquiry.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta were hearing a petition filed by Solapur-based activist Uttamrao Ghatule and advocate Ashok Metkari. The petitioners' advocate Machindra Patil said that the government-appointed special investigation team, comprising only bureaucrats, will be unable to conduct an impartial probe. Patil submitted that a retired judge should be included in the team.

The petition said the panel should in a time-bound programme inquire the irregularities and illegalities in the various irrigation projects across the state and find out the exact cost of the projects, expenditures incurred and funds misused or misappropriated.

The petition said several villages, farmers and animals are suffering from non-receipt of water and are hence facing starvation. It also said that there have also been instances of suicides. From 2002 to 2012, around Rs 70,000 crore was spent on six dam projects, but officers at the irrigation department "deliberately and intentionally" have not provided water to the villages.

Additional government pleader Molina Thakur said the government has come out with a white paper and the SIT, led by water expert Madhav Chitale, will probe the entire issue. Granting the government time to file its reply to the petition, the judges posted the next hearing after four weeks.

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