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Khadse land case to be transferred to ACB

The Anti-Corruption Bureau would probe the land deal case against BJP leader Eknath Khadse and register an FIR against the accused, Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court which said the investigation should be carried out “expeditiously and independently”.

The government’s decision to transfer the probe to ACB comes after the high court had during earlier hearings expressed displeasure over the manner in which the local police was handling the investigation.

State government counsel Niteen Pradhan informed the division bench of Justices R V More and Revati Mohite Dere that the Pune police, which was earlier investigating the case, would not be able to probe the case falling under Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The investigation into the case against Khadse and his family members will be transferred to ACB. An FIR will be lodged against the accused persons,” Pradhan said.

The high court had earlier said that if the government was not willing to transfer probe to ACB then it would pass appropriate orders.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by activist Hemant Gavande.

The petitioner alleged that Khadse, during his tenure as revenue minister, purchased a three-acre plot at Bhosari in Pune owned by Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) in the name of his kin for Rs. 3.75 crore as against the market price of Rs. 40 crore.

The state government had earlier set up a judicial commission, headed by retired Justice Dinkar Zoting, to probe the allegations against Khadse.

The high court said the ACB should carry out the probe “expeditiously and independently”.

It also said that the ACB should not let the previous findings of the Pune police and the judicial commission affect its investigation.

The court said the probe will be supervised by ACB’s Additional Director General.

The HC posted the petition for further hearing on April 3 and asked the ACB to inform it about the progress in the probe by then.

In February this year, the state had told the HC that Pune police had not detected any “prima facie cognisable offence” in the case.

Khadse had quit the Devendra Fadnavis ministry in June last year in the wake of graft allegations, including irregularities in the Pune MIDC land deal.

He had denied allegations of wrongdoing.

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