Speaking exclusively with Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on Friday, former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis questioned the role of the state government for the permission given to the Wadhawan family to travel to Mahabaleshwar. He contended that the Principal Secretary issuing a letter to the DHFL promoters wanted by the CBI and ED was a very serious matter. Citing his own experience as the CM and Home Minister, he observed that no senior bureaucrat would take such a decision without receiving on order from the political bosses.
Fadnavis revealed that his party demanded that the investigation should extend to finding out who gave the order regarding the drafting of such a letter. Moreover, the BJP leader accused the NCP of deliberately skirting the established procedure and passing on the buck to the Centre. He also urged Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray to break his silence on the issue.
Devendra Fadnavis remarked, "This is very shocking. The manner in which they were given permission. They did not run away but went from one hill station to another with the government's permission. There is a lookout notice issued by CBI. He is being probed by the ED. The Principal Secretary issuing such a letter is a very serious matter. I have seen the Maharashtra police very closely for 5 years. I have been the CM and the Home Minister. No senior takes a decision on his own volition. He is not the only guilty one. Because if he has given such a letter, he must have the blessings of someone. Someone must have given orders in this regard. Our demand is that a probe must also be conducted about who ordered such a letter to be given to the Wadhawans."
He added, "Merely sending the officer on leave is not a solution. Nawab Malik knows that whenever an IAS or IPS officer commits a mistake, the state government has to conduct an inquiry and send recommendations to the Centre after the DoPT gives its approval. Because some political bosses are behind this, there is talk about passing the buck to the Centre. They are wasting time. This is not a simple matter."
The controversy came to the fore on Thursday when reports emerged that some members of the Wadhawan family including DHFL promoters Dheeraj and Kapil Wadhawan had travelled to a farmhouse in Mahabaleshwar. This was in violation of the nationwide lockdown which prohibits unnecessary and inter-district travel. According to the Satara Superintendent of Police, they detained 23 members of the Wadhawan family after locals in the area alerted them. They have been booked under sections 188, 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code besides relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act and COVID-19 regulations.
In a surprising turn of events, it emerged that the Wadhwans were able to reach Mahabaleshwar on producing a letter written by Principal Secretary (Home) Amitabh Gupta. The letter stated that the Wadhawans were his family friends and travelling for a 'medical emergency'. Dheeraj and Kapil Wadhawan are being probed in connection with the DHFL and Yes Bank cases. Both the CBI and ED have requested the authorities to not allow the DHFL promoters to leave after the completion of the quarantine period as there were non-bailable warrants pending against them. Meanwhile, Anil Deshmukh announced that Gupta had been sent on compulsory leave and Additional Chief Secretary Manoj Saunik will conduct the probe.