Corruption Case Against Maharashtra Government Closed By SC

Maharashtra government’s plea to close the alleged case of corruption in the Enron-Dabhol Power Project has been allowed by the Supreme Court. The decision was taken by the bench comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjeev Khanna.

US based Enron, along with Dabhol Power Corporation (DPC) - Enron’s associate- entered into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) in 1993 and set up a 3 billion dollar (US) power project in Maharashtra in 1996. This PPA was in dispute in the Bombay High Court, where the court had upheld its validity.

In 1997, the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) filed a petition in the SC challenging this decree, for which the SC had issued a notice to the MSEB regarding the role of the Maharashtra government and its officials in the signing of the PPA.

Maharashtra government had provided information on the developments in the case since 1996, when the issue was dealt with by the Bombay High Court, in the hearing of February 14th.

A committee headed by IAS officer Madhav Godbole and formed to look into the matter submitted its report about the irregularities in the PPA in April 2001. It dealt with issues spanning across different governments led by the Sharad Pawar from when he was the Chief Minister (Congress), the BJP-led Union Government, and Manohar Joshi and Balasaheb Thackeray (Shiv Sena). 

Following the report and suggestion, the state government had appointed a one-person judicial commission headed by Justice SP Kurdukar.  But due to the Centre filing a lawsuit against the state government, the proceedings of the commission were stayed in 2003. Although the suit was dismissed, the proceedings never resumed.

The defunct Dabhol Power Corporation was taken over by the Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt. Ltd.  (a joint venture of the Maharashtra government, GAIL, and NTPC) in 2005 in an effort to revive its assets.

In March 2018, the Centre had informed SC that the Union did not wish the judicial commission to continue. The SC, in an earlier hearing had said that the matter was being heard as a matter of Public Interest litigation and was primarily to determine the role of the state government and ascertain its accountability.

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