HC wants government reply to PIL seeking ACB probe into civic scams

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The Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra government and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to submit their replies to a PIL seeking transfer of probe into the alleged road contract and desilting scams from city police to Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

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A bench, headed by Justice V M Kanade, asked the two authorities to file their responses to the PIL within two weeks and adjourned the matter till July 26.

MCGM informed the court that police probe into the road and desilting scams was already on and some arrests have been made. Even the municipal corporation is conducting an inquiry into the alleged scams, MCGM lawyer said.

The PIL, filed by advocate Vivekananda Gupta, argued that a probe by ACB would expose the “unholy nexus between contractors and civic staff”.

The petition said there was water-logging in the city on July 19 and 20 last year due to heavy rains, following which the Municipal Commissioner had ordered an inquiry into the desilting contract work.

“The probe revealed unholy nexus of contractors and civic officials,” the petition alleged.

Subsequently, the Commissioner ordered filing of an FIR against the contractors involved in the desilting scam, also known as ‘nullah safai’ scam.

The Chief Engineer (Vigilance) and a few officials of MCGM were suspended. The nullah cleaning scam exposed the fraud and nexus of contractors with MCGM officials, the PIL alleged.

In another development in the road contract scam, a probe was ordered by the Municipal Commissioner on a complaint received from BJP MP and the Mayor.

The probe pertained to the construction of roads during 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16. The interim probe showed serious irregularities in the road work. The municipal chief ordered registration of an FIR.

The FIR named six accused, including third party road auditors, and the Chief Engineer (Roads) was suspended immediately.

Both the FIRs were registered with Azad Maidan Police station, said the petition and demanded that the probe be transferred to ACB in view of alleged nexus of contractors with the civic staff, the PIL demanded.

Later, the FIR pertaining to the desilting scam was transferred from Azad Maidan Police Station to the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police.

The EOW arrested five desilting contractors recently.