Bombay HC seeks state’s reply to Sena MLA’s plea seeking action against ex-Thane civic body commissioner

The Bombay High Court Monday sought a reply from the Maharashtra Urban Development Department, state police, and R A Rajiv, the former commissioner of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), to a plea filed by Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik in 2015, seeking legal action against Rajiv levelling corruption charges.

Sarnaik, an MLA from the Ovala-Majiwada constituency, who is in Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s group, had alleged that Rajiv had collected money for a 2012 contract in carrying out renovation work for the Town Planning Department of TMC without previous approval of the urban development ministry and therefore was guilty of misconduct.

A division bench of Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Sharmila U Deshmukh on Monday was hearing the plea by Sarnaik which sought directions from the court to the state government to grant sanction to prosecute Rajiv under the Prevention of Corruption Act and to set aside the government’s April 2014 order refusing such sanction. The plea sought further direction to the Maharashtra Police to initiate legal action against Rajiv in accordance with law after the state government grants such a sanction to prosecute him.

The court was told that pending Sarnaik’s previous plea filed in 2013, the state had refused sanction to prosecute Rajiv and thereafter the Shiv Sena leader was asked by the court to file a fresh petition challenging the government’s refusal.

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Sarnaik had claimed the state government had failed to investigate who the contractor appointed for renovation work was, how much amount was paid to the said contractor for the work and whether the payments were made to any other person and if the same were connected with orders of regularisation of unauthorised development in Thane. Sarnaik said he had contacted concerned departments raising his grievances but in vain, prompting him to approach the high court in 2015.

The court in June this year had directed Sarnaik to amend the plea as Rajiv had retired from government service after becoming Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) commissioner and his address and other details had changed.

The bench on Monday directed the respondent authorities and Rajiv to file affidavits in reply to the plea and posted a further hearing after three weeks.