All hurdles for the prosecution of minister of state for fisheries Pushottam Solanki in connection with an alleged Rs 400 crore fisheries contract scam have been cleared with the Gujarat Governor giving final nod for legal action against him.
Governor Dr Kamla Beniwal has sanctioned prosecution of Solanki for his alleged role in the scam.
She had decided against the advice of the state's council of ministers (CoM) who had decided against sanction for prosecution of their colleague.
The decision of the Governor was on Monday placed before Gujarat High Court division bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice C L Soni, who were hearing a contempt plea against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his CoM over the state government's refusal to give sanction to Solanki's prosecution without the approval of the Governor.
The court had early this month directed the state government to place all the papers related to the case before the Governor and had asked her to take the final decision on sanction for prosecution of Solanki.
One Ishaq Maradia has alleged Solanki of indulging in corruption by granting fishing contracts without any tendering process causing loss of over Rs 400 crore to the state exchequer.
Maradia also sought registration of an FIR against Solanki under the Prevention of corruption Act.
However, his request for Solanki's prosecution was struck down by the order of deputy secretary to Agriculture and Co-operation Department on October 20, 2010, following which Maradia moved the high court challenging the jurisdiction of deputy secretary in deciding against sanction.
On March 30 the High Court had set aside the order of Deputy Secretary, and directed the government to decide over permission to prosecute Solanki under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It had stated that Governor would be the competent authority to take a final decision with aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
While giving sanction for Solanki's prosecution Governor has stated in her letter that the complaint of Maradia should be allowed and process for prosecution of Solanki under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), 1988 be initiated in respect to the allegation made in Maradia's application.
The Governor has enumerated the reasons based on which the sanction for Solanki's prosecution was granted. These include the 2008 order of the High Court cancelling the fishing contracts awarded by Solanki, affidavit by one of the beneficiaries of the contract that he was asked to pay Rs 30 lakh as bribe to Solanki, notings made in file by former Finance Secretary G B Shah and then chief secretary D Rajagopal, Maradia’s lawyer Mukul Sinha said.
The notings of Shah also revealed that cabinet minister for fisheries Dilip Sanghani had endorsed Solanki's decision to award contracts by allegedly giving undue favour to certain parties, he added.
Following the decision of the Governor, the court disposed off the contempt petition. Now, it is left for the complainant Maradia either to register an FIR with the police or file a complaint before a competent court dealing with corruption cases.