Bombay HC orders FIR against Ajit Pawar, 70 others in bank scam

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court directed police to register FIR against NCP leader Ajit Pawar and over 70 others in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam on Thursday, observing that they seemed to have "complete knowledge" that their actions would cause a huge loss to the bank.

The court asked Mumbai police's Economic Offences Wing to register an FIR against the accused within five days. Prima facie there was "credible evidence" against the accused, it added.

Pawar, PWP leader Jayant Patil and several former directors of the bank are accused of violating banking and RBI regulations while disbursing loans to sugar mills at very low rates and selling off assets of defaulter businesses at throw-away prices.

Such sale of assets, disbursement of cheap loans and a failure to ensure repayment resulted in losses of over Rs 1,000 crore to the bank between 2007 and 2011, it is alleged.

The accused also forged records and fudged figures to show the bank was making profits, it is alleged. Pawar, a former deputy chief minister and finance minister, was a director of the bank during the relevant period.

Inquiries by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and a charge sheet filed by a quasi-judicial inquiry commission under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act had blamed Pawar and other accused for the bank's losses.

Surinder Arora, an activist, had filed a complaint against Pawar and others with the EOW in 2015. He approached the high court through his lawyer S B Talekar when no FIR was registered on his complaint.

In the judgment made available on Thursday evening, the high court said the NABARD report indicated that these directors "were having complete knowledge regarding the transactions and in spite of that, either they sanctioned the loans to such units (that did not have the capacity to repay) and/or sold out the properties of such units at a throwaway price which resulted in a substantial loss to the Bank".

"The Inspection Report therefore not only points out the discrepancies or irregularities committed by the Bank and its directors but also points out that the trust reposed in the Bank and its officers has been brazenly breached.

"NPA (non-performing asset) Accounts were intentionally camouflaged, in as much as, the amount sanctioned and disbursed to the units wherein the Directors had interest," the HC said.