RTI reply reveals valuer submitted report before his appointment.
Mumbai: The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) has committed a glaring mistake, which could damage the case against NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal. An RTI reply has revealed that the ACB received the valuer’s report in the Andheri Regional Transportation Office (RTO) scam even before he was appointed.
Though the then ACB Chief Praveen Dixit confirmed that the architect to evaluate the plot was appointed after he submitted the report, he has claimed that it won’t affect the case. However, questions will be raised over the conduct of the ACB.
The ACB had registered a FIR against Bhujbal and 16 others in connection with Andheri Regional Transportation Office (RTO) scam under charges of misusing power, presenting the faulty status report and transferring money through Benami properties.
The ACB also wanted to get the valuation of the RTO plot at Andheri, which was handed over to Messrs KS Chamankar for development.
The papers received through RTI by Prasanna Chamankar, one of the accused, revealed shocking details of the process of appointment of the valuer.
Narendra Talegaonkar, who is investigation officer and assistant commissioner of police had written to architect Shirish Sukhatme, requesting him to be the valuer in this case. This letter was sent on April 22, 2015. After Mr Sukhatme accepted the offer on May 12, 2015, the state home ministry gave approval and appointment letter to Mr Sukhatme on June 30, 2015.
But, the RTI reply revealed that Mr Sukhatme had submitted the evaluation report almost 21 days before to his appointment on June 9, 2015. This could damage ACB’s case against Bhujbal on the ground of ‘predefined report’.
In the valuation, Mr Sukhatme had stated that the plot is worth Rs 954.95 crore. But, five days before the report was submitted, Mr Talegaonkar’s draft FIR on June 4, 2015, also claimed that the worth of plot was Rs 954.95 Cr. The developments have raised questions about the working procedure of the ACB.
However, then ACB Chief and former director general of police Praveen Dixit said, “As soon as directives from the high court and permission for an inquiry from the government was received, the process of consultation with experts was initiated by the ACB. When it was confirmed by the expert that fraudulent activity appears to have taken place, FIR was registered. Following this, the expert has given his opinion in writing.”