Nagpur: Trouble spelled for former minister Babasaheb Dhabekar on Friday as the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court directed the state sugar commissioner to take steps for recovering Rs 60 crore from him and 22 other directors of a sugar mill. Dhabekar and others are accused of misappropriating under the pretext of selling their company for repaying loans.
Justice Zaka Haq directed the commissioner and State Cooperatives Department to start proceedings against the alleged defaulters as per Section 88 of Maharashtra Cooperatives Societies Act, 1960. It included conducting enquiry and fixing liability for recovery of Rs60 crore from them.
Dhabekar, and 22 others, had started Balaji Sakhar Karkhana in Risod in Washim in year 2000. They availed a loan of Rs7.5 crore for from Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB). Soon, the mill started suffering losses and went into bankruptcy. The directors then sold the company to a Nagpur-based liquor firm for Rs5.5 crore but without seeking MSCB’s consent.
The new owner repaid hardly Rs2 crore and began defaulting on the loan. A shareholder Pandurang Thakur then lodged a complaint about massive irregularities and misappropriation with State Cooperatives Department in 2005. When nothing moved, he knocked the high court’s doors praying for an enquiry and recovery of losses from the directors. The court directed sugar commissioner to constitute a one-member panel to investigate into allegations against Balaji Sakhar Karkhana.
The probe report pinned the blame for mismanagement and misappropriation on all 23 directors, including the former minister. It called on for fixing liability on all of them for recovering losses with accrued interest which comes to around Rs60 crore.
The commissioner then appointed second officer under Section 88 of Cooperatives Act for starting recovery proceedings from the company’s directors and served them with notice. The respondents challenged it before the state cooperatives minister, who cancelled commissioner’s orders and ordered a fresh enquiry into the affair.
Petitioner Thakre, through counsel Amol Deshpande, then again approached the HC, which cancelled minister’s orders and directed commissioner to fix responsibility on directors and start recovery of amount.