CM Has Right to Overrule Home Minister, Says Ashok Chavan on Elgar Probe
File image of Congress leader Ashok Chavan. (Image: PTI)
Pune: Maharashtra minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan on Sunday said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has the right to overrule the state Home Minister over the transfer of Elgar Parishad case to the National Investigating Agency (NIA).
He, however, said that the Centre must talk to the state government before taking decisions like the transfer of case to the NIA.
Chavan's remarks come days after the Maharashtra government changed its stand and said that it had no objection to the NIA taking over the probe into the Elgar Parishad case, in which human rights activists have been arrested for their alleged Maoist links.
The Centre had last month transferred the probe in the case from the Pune Police to the NIA, a move then criticised by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in the state.
Talking to reporters here, Chavan said, "Although law says that the Union government can transfer such a case to NIA, it (Centre) must talk to the state government before taking such decisions."
When asked whether the chief minister had consulted the cabinet over the issue, he replied in the negative.
"It is not a policy decision and the CM has the right to overrule the home minister," the PWD Minister added.
After the Maharashtra government's change of stand, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had said that the Centre should have taken the state government into confidence before transferring the Elgar Parishad case probe to the central agency, but added that the CM had the right to overrule him.
"The state agencies were investigating the Koregaon Bhima (Elgar Parishad) case. But, the Centre handed over the investigation to the NIA. As Home Minister, my stand was that the Centre should have taken the state government into confidence before taking the decision. We were putting up our stand in the court in this direction. The Chief Minister has the right to overrule my stand," Deshmukh had said.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed, triggered violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in the district the next day.
The Pune police have claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.
During the probe, the police arrested Left-leaning activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for alleged Maoist links.
These nine activists, currently in jail, are among 11 people booked by the NIA in the Elgar Parishad case.
A court in Pune on Friday allowed the NIA's plea for transfer of case papers, court records and proceedings to a special NIA court in Mumbai.