January 20, 2020
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"It Is A First Of Sort"

Justice S.W. Puranik began his practice as a lawyer in '56 and was elevated to the Nagpur bench of the High Court as a judge in '79. After retiring from the bench of the Bombay High Court in December '93, he has conducted two inquiries. Excerpts from

"It Is A First Of Sort"

Do you feel pressured handling an inquiry of this proportion?

It is part of my duty. Complaints have been made against the ministers; the chief minister has found substantial evidence to institute an inquiry and I am expected to provide the judicial outlook.

Is it possible to complete the inquiry within the stipulated 60 days? And what kind of action will be taken eventually?

It is possible if there is prompt cooperation from those who have made complaints and the departments that have the relevant files. As for taking action, it would depend on the government. They are not on trial before me.

Was it imperative for the two ministers to resign for an impartial inquiry to be conducted?

Politics apart, I feel the two ministers should have no control over the departments they were heading. But I think the Maharashtra (government) has shown boldness and courage by instituting an inquiry into sitting ministers. As far as my information goes, it is a first of sorts.

Would the decision of the findings be binding on the government?

Unlike those that come under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the results of this inquiry will be binding.

Would you be in favour of a three-member commission?

I feel that a three-member commission would lead to inordinate delays. But it is up to the government to decide.

Is evidence based on complaints enough to indict a minister?

I have not seen the papers.

Have you ever met Anna Hazare? And how do you feel when this inquiry is labelled as an ‘eyewash’?

I am not affected by public opinion. I have also always stayed away from politics. In fact, I don’t even know which parties the two ministers belong to. I have never met them and I have never met Anna Hazare.

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