On Friday, controversial Indian politician Ajit Pawar, who resigned as the Deputy Chief of India's Maharashtra state on 27 November within three days of being sworn-in, was given exhonoration with regard to his role in alleged irregularities in irrigation projects in the State’s Nagpur region.
In an affidavit filed before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court earlier this week, details of which appeared in the public domain on Friday, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) said "no criminal liability was found” to have been taken by Pawar when he was chairman of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) between 1999 and 2014.
The ACB further stated Pawar was not held liable in 100 out of 302 tender requests submitted for his sanction, as an inquiry into the remaining tenders is still ongoing.
There was an immediate reaction from former Maharashtra state chief Devendra Fadnavis, who claimed that the current affidavit had been altered to give Pawar a clean slate.
He said the court would not accept it “since it is completely contradictory to the affidavit filed by the then head of the ACB in November last year".
During the second term of the Fadnavis government, with lasted for three days last month, some media had reported that because Ajit Pawar had agreed to extend support the then ruling BJP, nine cases of alleged corruption filed against him were closed. But on 25 November, the anti-graft agency announced that these probes were not linked to Pawar and had closed them after completing the investigation process.
A total of 2,654 tenders related to 45 VIDC irrigation projects were being investigated by the ACB. The ACB investigating officer said its latest affidavit before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court was filed after acquiring clarifications from the government on various allegations made against Pawar, as ordered by the high court bench.
The ACB investigating officer said its latest affidavit before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court was filed after acquiring clarifications from the government on various allegations made against Pawar as ordered by the high court bench.
It further said there was nothing adverse with regard to "money trail linkages", documented or oral, that had been noticed so far, but confirmed that there had been several procedural lapses and departmental irregularities committed by the executive director to the then-chairman (Ajit Pawar).