Mumbai, March 6
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday sought BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis’s response to a petition questioning the transfer of salary accounts of the Maharashtra police department to Axis Bank, a private lender and also asked the state home department and the Director General of Police, to furnish their replies within eight weeks.
While hearing the petition filed by one Mohnish Jabalpure, alleging the misuse of powers by Fadnavis ,as chief minister to help Axis Bank at the expense of public sector lenders, a division bench of Justices Ravi Deshpande and Amit Borkar issued notices to the Additional Chief Secretary of the home department and DGP.
Fadnavis, now leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly, is at the centre of attention, since his wife Amruta Fadnavis holds a senior position with Axis Bank. The petitioner cited a circular issued by the then BJP-led government on May 11, 2017, which effected transfer of salary accounts of police personnel as well as beneficiaries of the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana to Axis Bank. This caused a loss to nationalised banks which were handling these accounts earlier, the petitioner alleged, seeking revocation of the decision and a probe. However a senior official said that the salary accounts of the police force were with UTI Bank — later renamed as Axis Bank — since 2005, much before Fadnavis became chief minister in 2014.
Fadnavis was the chief minister of Maharashtra from 2014 till 2019. He became the CM at the age of 44 and was second youngest chief minister. He represents the Nagpur South West constituency in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
In a related development, the Shiv Sena-controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporaton (BMC), also invested Rs one crore in fixed deposit with the Axis Bank, out of its investments worth Rs 6,300 crore in nine banks in January this year. The interest rate of 6.5 per cent offered by the Axis Bank is the second highest. The document indicates that the FD amount invested by the BMC in the Axis Bank is the lowest among all its investments made in nine banks. The civic body’s FD with the Axis Bank will mature in July 2021.
In January, the cash-rich BMC made 446 fixed deposits of amounts worth Rs one to three crore for a period of 12 to 24 months in nine different public and private sector lenders, including the Axis Bank. The BMC has deposited Rs five crore in the Municipal Cooperative Bank, which has offered the highest interest rate of 7.5 per annum. All other banks, including the private lender ICICI, where the BMC has invested Rs 329 crore in FDs, have offered interest at a rate lower than 6.4 per annum. In yet another development, the Thane Municipal Corporation has shifted the accounts of the Thane Municipal Corporation from Axis Bank to a nationalised bank.