An anti-corruption court in Gandhinagar on Saturday issued a non-bailable warrant against Minister of State for Fisheries Parshottam Solanki for his appearance in the alleged Rs 400 crore fisheries scam.
This is the third time that the court has issued a warrant against Solanki for his appearance. The special court issued the warrant after an application was moved by the lawyer of the complainant Ishak Maradia. The court allowed the application and ordered Solanki to remain present on April 20th before the court. The special court had issued a warrant in February for the first time against Solanki and co-accused former agriculture minister Dileep Sanghani. On Saturday Sanghani's lawyer, Rajesh Rupareliya appeared on behalf, but Solanki did not.
This case concerns an alleged scam in allotting fishing contracts. It was alleged that Solanki with the help of co-accused gave fishing contract of 58 reservoirs without following tender procedure. Maradia, a business from Palanpur, in Banaskantha district of north Gujarat, had approached Gujarat high court alleging large scale corruption.
The high court scrapped contracts and directed the government to issue fresh tenders. Maradia again moved high court seeking prosecution of Solanki after the state cabinet led by the then chief minister Narendra Modi, now the prime minister refused to take action against the minister. The high court said that the prosecution of a minister was in the hands of the governor.
The then governor Kamla Beniwal granted the sanction. The case had snowballed into a major political crisis in 2011-2012. Following several rounds of litigation, Maradia filed a criminal complaint with the special anti-corruption court in Gandhinagar. The court ordered a probe by Gujarat Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) which found that there was a scam and the minister could be booked for corruption.
After the ACB's report, the special court issued notices to Solanki, Sanghani and other co-accused in 2015. Solanki was still the fisheries minister while Sanghani was agriculture minister. They challenged special court's order in the Gujarat high court, which in December 2018, rejected the pleas. The high court, while holding that there is a prima facie case against the accused, ordered them to appear before the special court. Solanki is yet to follow the order.