Bowing before pressure from all sections, the Zoting committee was appointed in 2016 and given three months time to submit the report.
Mumbai: Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Eknath Khadse has received a shot in the arm after the inquiry commission headed by retired Justice Dinkar Zoting did not conclude any illegality in his family members purchasing land in Pune.
The inquiry commission was appointed in the wake of allegations that Mr Khadse’s family members purchased the land, which belonged to Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), for less than 10 per cent of its market price. The commission held that the transaction was wrong on ‘moral grounds’ but there was nothing illegal about it. This may open a door of opportunity for Mr Khadse, who is the strongest challenger to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the state, to stage a comeback to the state Cabinet.
Bowing before pressure from all sections, the Zoting committee was appointed in 2016 and given three months time to submit the report. After a number of extensions, it submitted its report to the government on June 30.
According to a senior official, the committee has not held Khadse guilty of the land deal on legal grounds, but has said the deal was not moral.
The report said, “It is morally not correct for a person who is holding a ministry to get involved in such a land deal. But we have not found sufficient evidence against him to hold him guilty by law.”
It is almost like a clean chit for Mr Khadse in the land deal case, sparking off reports that he would be inducted into the Cabinet once again. Sources said that it was a source of great relief for Mr Khadse, who had been away from government activities for a year.
Mr Khadse had quit the ministry in June last year in the wake of a string of allegations, including irregularities in the Pune MIDC land deal. In April this year, The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) registered a first information report (FIR) against him, his wife, son-in-law and the original owner of the land, for alleged irregularities in the purchase of the land.
He has also received a clean chit from the police over allegations about him receiving calls from an underworld don. His personal assistant had been caught taking bribe, but Mr Khadse’s involvement was ruled out.