Fadnavis appoints BJP MLA accused in power theft as panel chief
BJP MLA Suresh Halwankar, who has been appointed as Chief of the one-member Textile Committee has a dodgy track record. He was disqualified by the governor as MLA in July 2014 after being convicted for power theft and sentenced for three years. He was able to contest elections after obtaining a stay from the High Court
Few days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi included a bank defaulter in his cabinet , Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has appointed an accused in power theft as chief of a one member panel.
Fadnavis has appointed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s member of legislative assembly (MLA) Suresh Halwankar as chief of the one-member Textile Committee. The MLA would be assisted by eight officials from the textile department.
Halwankar, who hails from Ichalkaranji, a textile-town in Kolhapur district, has been accused in a power theft case that caused a loss of about Rs21 lakh to state electricity board. The MLA owns a power loom factory in his hometown.
The MLA and his brother were charged under sections 135 and 138 of the Electricity Act, after a flying squad raid revealed that the meter of the factory was running 45% slow, causing a loss of Rs20.97 lakh to the electricity board.
In May this year, Halwankar was convicted and sentenced to three years’ rigorous imprisonment and Rs10,000 fine. In his appeal before the Bombay High Court, the MLA had said his brother was taking care of the factory and he was not involved in the day-to-day functioning.
The High Court, while admitting his appeal In July stayed Halwankar’s conviction. However, before the HC stayed his conviction, the Governor had passed an order disqualifying him. Halwankar then moved another petition seeking that the Returning Officer be directed to accept his nomination form.
In September 2014, the bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Girish Kulkarni refused to grant an interim relief to Halwankar and asked him to submit his nomination form to the Returning Officer for the Assembly elections.
Last month, Halwankar contested and won the election from Ichalkaranji.
The Textile Committee was formed by the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government and had representatives from textile institutions, business associations besides bureaucrats.
According to a report from the Times of India, the Fadnavis government avoided directly mentioning sacking of the previous committee in the notification issued on Thursday.
“The new committee has assigned the same tasks as the previous committee. Halwankar’s committee can invite experts as per need, says the notification issued by RS Khadse, an official at the department of cooperation, marketing and textile,” the report says.