The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shinde buys time on CBI stamp probe

Mumbai, Nov. 20: Nudged by CBI director P.C. Sharma and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today seemed to leave the door ajar on a central probe into the stamp paper scam.

“I have to take others into confidence before commenting on the issue of handing over the case to the CBI,’’ Shinde said, adding that he will take a final decision on November 27. His stand so far has been that the “special investigation team is doing a great job and there is no need for the involvement of a central agency”.

In Bhopal, Advani today tried to deflect the fire on the cash-on-disc scandal involving BJP leader Dilip Singh Judeo to the stamp scam, pointing out that Congress-ruled Maharashtra and Karnataka had not handed over the case to the CBI. BJP chief minister Narendra Modi and ally Chandrababu Naidu had done so, he added.

The deputy Prime Minister said episodes like the stamp paper scam underlined the pressing need for a “constitutional mechanism” to empower the bureau to act on its own.

The CBI chief had recently revealed that the bureau was working on the stamp paper case in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and was willing to take over the probe in Maharashtra as well.

Things were getting a bit difficult for Shinde at home too, with governor Mohammad Fazal publicly speaking up for a CBI inquiry into the case. The governor wrote to Shinde on November 10, saying it was his “personal suggestion” to hand over the case to the CBI. Fazal had met Advani in Delhi recently and apprised him of the latest in the Telgi scam and its repercussions.

“During my meeting with the deputy Prime Minister, I learnt that the CBI is willing to take up the Telgi case in Maharashtra… the CBI has already taken over the case in some other states,” Fazal said.

Shinde claimed the letter could have been written after Fazal received a memorandum from some Opposition BJP leaders pressing for a CBI inquiry.

“I am looking into the matter and will respond to it,” he said. In the same breath, Shinde reiterated his faith in the special investigation team, led by former director-general S.S. Puri.

“An additional commissioner (Sreedhar Vagal) has been arrested and many other police officers are facing trial because of the state police’s investigation,” Shinde said, adding that he was both proud of and satisfied with the team’s efforts.

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