Gujarat Fisheries Minister Purushottam Solanki's prosecution will be deliberated in consultation with the government. (Photo: YouTube, gujarattv9/FIS)
State court rules against fisheries minister over scam
Monday, September 24, 2012, 04:20 (GMT + 9)
Gujarat Fisheries Minister Purushottam Solanki's petition challenging Governor Kamla Beniwal’s decision to sanction his prosecution in an alleged INR 4 billion (USD 73.9 million) fishing contracts scam was dismissed by the Gujarat High Court this week.
A bench of Justice Rajesh H Shukla said the minister was incorrect when he claimed that the power exercised by Governor Beniwal was alien to her.
"Governor's order was not erroneous. She has exercised her power which is not alien to her and it needs to be implemented," Justice Shukla said, Business Standard reports.
The comment came after Solanki and the state government had argued that in a parliamentary system, the Council of Ministers is the real executive and not the Governor, who in this case “had acted contrary to the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, which is alien to the Constitution.”
But the court was not swayed.
“If, in cases where prima facie case is clearly made out, sanction to prosecute high functionaries is refused or withheld, democracy itself will be at stake. It would lead to a situation where people in power may break the law with impunity, safe in the knowledge they will not be prosecuted as the requisite sanction will not be granted,” the court ruled, The Indian Express reports.
In 2008, trader Ishaq Maradia accused Solanki of granting fishing contracts without following due tendering process, thereby causing losses of INR 4 billion (USD 73.9 million) to Gujarat over the past 10 years.
In 2009, the court eliminated all the contracts in question.
The court also told the Governor to deliberate on the minister’s prosecution in consultation with the government.
However, the Cabinet allegedly did not sanction his prosecution earlier in 2012, which caused Maradia to move the court again, seeking contempt of court proceedings against the government, including the chief minister, claiming that they had ignored the Governor while deciding not to take action against Solanki.
Last July, the court ordered the government to send the report of its cabinet meeting about the prosecution of Solanki to the Governor’s office. The Governor then granted the sanction for his prosecution.
Solanki will now face prosecution in a special court under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
By Natalia Real