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Passage for Wadhawans: IPS officer sent on leave, probe set up

News of DHFL promoters Wadhawans, their family and close friends traveling from Khandala near Pune to Mahabaleshwar in Satara district despite coronavirus lockdown sparked off a political row in the state. The Wadhawan family and their friends, who drove to the family's farmhouse at Mahabaleshwar on Wednesday evening, were put under quarantine by the Satara authorities.

PTI|
Last Updated: Apr 10, 2020, 06.23 PM IST
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Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Friday sent senior IPS officer Amitabh Gupta on compulsory leave and initiated a probe against him for allegedly helping scam accused Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan and 21 others to travel to a hill station amid lockdown.

News of DHFL promoters Wadhawans, their family and close friends traveling from Khandala near Pune to Mahabaleshwar in Satara district despite coronavirus lockdown sparked off a political row in the state.

The Wadhawan family and their friends, who drove to the family's farmhouse at Mahabaleshwar on Wednesday evening, were put under quarantine by the Satara authorities.

Gupta, special principal secretary in the Home Department, had allegedly given the Wadhawans a letter which facilitated the travel.

Home Minister Anil Deshmukh tweeted that "as per discussion with chief minister (Uddhav Thackeray),Amitabh Gupta has been sent on compulsory leave".

The government also ordered a probe, to be headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) Manoj Saunik, into the matter. Saunik will submit his report in 15 days, it said.

Srikant Singh, ACS (Appeals and security) will handle additional charge as principal secretary in Gupta's place.

The probe order noted that when the entire country was in lockdown to tackle coronavirus, Gupta gave a letter on his letterhead to allow Kapil Wadhawan and others to travel.

The permission for travel by cars, in the form of "To Whomsoever It May Concern" letter, was issued on April 8. It stated that the Wadhawan family was known to Gupta and they were traveling for "family emergency".

Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan are under the scanner in Yes Bank and Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank scams.

Opposition BJP, meanwhile, latched onto the issue and tried to corner the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government.

"No lockdowns for mighty & rich in Maharashtra? One can spend holidays in Mahabaleshwar with official permission from police. It is not possible that a senior IPS officer would do such gross mistake knowing the consequences on his own," former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted.

Kirit Somaiya, another BJP leader, said sending Gupta on leave was only window dressing, and Deshmukh should resign.

In related development, the CBI on Friday wrote to Superintendent of Police and District Magistrate of Satara not to release Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan without a no objection certificate (NOC) of the agency or a court order.

The CBI had registered an offence against Kapil Wadhawan, Dheeraj Wadhawan, Yes Bank's then Managing Director and CEO Rana Kapoor and others on March 7, an official said.

Since then Kapil and Dheeraj were absconding, he added. A court had issued a non bailable warrant against both on March 17, but they did not appear, he said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) too had issued summons to Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan in Yes Bank case and asked them to appear on March 17. The duo reportedly cited the pandemic and skipped the appearance, officials said.

Satara police, meanwhile, registered a case against the Wadhawans and others under IPC section 188 (disobedience of lawful order of public servant) and the Disaster Management Act, 2005, for defying lockdown.

(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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