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While Farmers Committed Suicides In Vidarbha, Vilasrao Shielded MLA's Moneylender Family

PTI 15 Dec 2010, 10:10:47 IST
New Delhi, Dec 14 : : In a stinging criticism of Maharashtra chief minister-turned Union cabinet minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said he had abused his constitutional position to prevent the police from registering a criminal case against a Congress MLA's moneylender father and slapped a Rs 10 lakh fine on the state government, reports Times of India.

Deshmukh was accused of interfering with registration of complaints and investigation of an illegal racket in the state's Vidarbha region in which moneylenders were alleged to have been squeezing debt-ridden farmers dry, forcing them to commit suicide.

Shocked by the ''gross misuse of power," a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said: "Considering the entire matter in its proper perspective, this court is of the view that the way interference was caused from the office of the CM by his private secretary by two telephone calls on May 31, 2006, and the manner in which the district collector was summoned by the CM on the very next day, June 1, 2006, for giving instructions to specially treat any complaint filed against MLA Dilip Kumar Sananda and his family members has no precedent either in law or in public administration."

The Bench not only upheld the Bombay High Court order directing registration of cases against the accused in the illegal moneylending ring but even enhanced the cost imposed on the state government from Rs 25,000 to Rs 10 lakh.

A petition before the HC had alleged that though there were around 50 complaints against one family related to Sananda for an illegal money-lending racket collecting interest up to 10% per month from poor farmers in Vidarbha, the police had refused to take action owing to consistent interference and instructions from the chief minister and his office.

The Supreme Court bench said: "The message conveyed in this case is extremely shocking and it shocks the conscience of this court about the manner in which the constitutional functionaries behaved in the state."

Ripping apart the politically dramatized pro-farmer face projected by the Congress-led coalition government, the Supreme Court said the complaint while seeking action against moneylenders was categorical — farmers do not get the benefit of various packages announced by the government and the state machinery is ruthless with farmers.