Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday sent a legal notice to Digvijay Singh seeking his apology for levelling baseless allegations, a day after Congress leader accused him of "nepotism" over a state agency's order asking developers to open accounts in a private bank where his wife works.
Fadnavis' lawyer Ganesh Sovani has asked Singh to tender an unconditional apology to Fadnavis within two weeks on his twitter handle after the receipt of the notice.
"I am instructed to call upon you to make amends and to retract the allegations made by you against my client while simultaneously tendering an unconditional apology to him (CM) within two weeks on your same Twitter handle @digvijaya_28 after the receipt of this notice first at any of the three addresses mentioned above, failing which my client Devendra Fadnavis shall have no option but to initiate appropriate civil and/or criminal proceedings against you at your own risk as to the costs and consequences thereof of which please take a serious note. May wisdom prevail!" said the notice.
In his tweets on Saturday, Singh said, "SRA in Mumbai headed by CM of Maharashtra has officially asked all SRA developers to open accounts only in Worli branch of Axis Bank".
"Do you know why? Mrs Fadnavis is the Vice-President of Axis Bank! A windfall for the Axis Bank a private Bank. Height of Nepotism," he had said.
Fadnavis has threatened to file defamation case among other proceedings if Singh fails to comply and retract the allegations.
"I hereby give you notice that if you fail to comply with the aforesaid requisitions within the stipulated period of one week, then I will be initiating legal proceedings either to prosecute you in a criminal court for defamation and/ or to sue you in civil court for the damages apart from seeking some incidental relief," the notice stated.
The order issued on February 10 by Fadnavis-headed Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) directed developers to submit details of their bank accounts with the Axis Bank's Worli branch in South Mumbai for payment of rent to eligible slum dwellers on or before February 15, 2016.
The former Madhya Pardesh Chief Minister's remarks came despite Fadnavis' recent clarification that no rules had been violated and the decision had no connection with his wife being an officer at the bank.
The SRA order had said penalties up to Rs 5 lakh would be imposed on developers if they failed to submit the details to the private lender's branch.
Congress had termed as "wrong" the condition to open accounts only with a particular bank. "The government must rethink the decision. Had the government been transparent, it would have sought applications from different banks and the eligible bank could have been appointed. Chief Minister must answer," MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant had said. A clarification issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) had said the previous Congress-led government itself had given permission to SRA to choose one among Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank for the task.
"Axis Bank gave us a model which will be beneficial to the government and SRA will not have to pay anything for it. These are zero balance accounts and slum-dwellers will benefit from them," the CMO had said.
It said the Chief Minister's wife, Amruta, is an officer with Axis Bank's corporate section and works at Lower Parel branch of the lender in Central Mumbai.
"She handles back office and has no target to achieve," it had said.