NEW DELHI: Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, who had earlier come under severe criticism from the Supreme Court for interdicting police action against a Congress MLA in Maharashtra, came under further attack from an apex court judge who questioned his continuance in the government.
“It is sad and shocking to see how the government allows and appreciates such ministers. Not only that, it also gives them a Cabinet post. It is not a dignified act and I would call it a shameless act,” Justice Mr A K Ganguly said at a seminar in Mumbai yesterday.
Justice Mr Ganguly, who along with Justice Mr G S Singhvi had criticised Mr Deshmukh for shielding a Congress MLA’s family from complaints on money lending by poor farmers during his tenure as chief minister, today said, “I have nothing more to say on it. I said whatever I wanted to say and I am not denying it.”
Mr Deshmukh, who was earlier holding Heavy Industries portfolio, has recently been shifted to Rural Development Ministry.
Justice Mr Ganguly’s remarks came against the backdrop of concerns expressed over exploitation of poor farmers at the hands of moneylenders. He referred to the case when the then Maharashtra chief minister had tried to protect moneylenders including the MLA from police action.
The judge was speaking at a two-day conference on gender concern in conflict zones. The Supreme Court had in its December 14 judgement termed Mr Deshmukh’s behaviour as anachronistic and incongruous and had enhanced to Rs 10 lakh the fine of Rs 25,000 imposed by the Bombay High Court on the Maharashtra government.
The court had said the action of Mr Deshmukh was condemnable as he acted beyond “all legal norms” for “political consideration” despite Vidharbha region having the dubious distinction of witnessing the largest number of farmers’ suicides.
“Chief Minister’s instructions are so incongruous and anachronistic, being in defiance of all logic and reason, that our conscience is deeply disturbed. We condemn the same in no uncertain terms,” the bench had said.
The apex court had passed the judgement while dismissing the state government’s appeal challenging a High Court order which had held that Deshmukh acted in violation of the law by asking the District Collector of Buldhana and Khamgaon Police Station not to register cases against the MLA, Mr Dilip Kumar Sananda and his family members.
The incident related to Mr Deshmukh’s action as chief minister in May 2006 after cases were registered by farmers of Vidharbha region led by Mr Sarangdharsingh Shivdassingh Chavan that the MLA and the family were torturing poor farmers for recovery and extracting 10 per cent monthly interest for lending loans.
“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 of Maharashtra,” the bench had said.
It was stated that as many as 34 complaints were registered against the MLA and his family till June 28, 2006, but due to Deshmukh’s interference no subsequent cases were registered by the police forcing the distressed farmers to move the High Court.