The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday discharged Anilkumar Gaikwad, the then executive engineer of the Presidency division of the public works department (PWD), from a case related to an irrigation scam in Maharashtra’s Konkan region.
The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) had booked Gaikwad along with the partners of FA Enterprises, Fateh Mohammed Khatri, and his sons Nisar, Jaitun, Aabid, and Jahid, on September 23, 2015, on charges of graft.
The ACB accused Gaikwad of corruption, as he had awarded new contracts to FA Contractors, who had already bagged six orders and were not eligible for more work.
The ACB alleged that under Gaikwad’s watch FA Contractors’ promoters floated a new company, FA Enterprises, purportedly claiming that it was formed by the directors, who had resigned from the parent firm.
Gaikwad was accused of overlooking the rules and forwarding a proposal for registration of FA Enterprises as a Class-1A contractor with the government. He allegedly forwarded the proposals without conducting proper scrutiny of documents submitted by the contractor.
Gaikwad moved HC after the special ACB court rejected his discharge plea on March 15, 2019.
Justice AM Badar, however, overruled the special court order on the ground of lack of evidence against Gaikwad.
The judge also took into consideration a government resolution (GR) issued by the PWD authorities on November 28, 2018, that exempted all their employees from penal consequences arising out of the scrutiny of documents submitted by contractors.
The judge noted that the GR stated that PWD employees or officers who may be entrusted with the work of scrutiny of documents submitted by contractors to the department shall not be held responsible for penal consequences in respect of scrutiny of such documents, if those turn out to be false and fabricated.
“As this GR has the retrospective effect, the continuation of prosecution against the applicant (Gaikwad), which is an allegation that he has not ascertained veracity and truthfulness of the documents submitted by the FA Enterprises, would certainly amount to an abuse of the process of the court,” said justice Badar.
The judge noted that there was hardly any evidence against the PWD engineer. “Perusal of the entire charge-sheet does not reveal iota of evidence for even prima facie demonstration of an offence of criminal misconduct on the part of the applicant,” said the court.
It noted that the entire file relating to the registration and certification of FA Enterprises as a Class-1A government contractor has gone missing. No original document is available to shed light on the registration of FA Enterprises as a Class-1A government contractor, it added.