New Delhi: Month ahead of Maharashtra elections, NCP leader Ajit Pawar suffered a major jolt as the Supreme Court declined to quash investigation against him in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam case. The apex court directed the Maharashtra police to conduct a free and fair probe and asserted that investigation cannot be stopped at this stage.

On August 22, the Bombay High Court had asked police to register an FIR against Pawar and over 70 others in the Rs 1,000-crore scam. It had observed that they seemed to have “complete knowledge” that their actions would cause a huge loss to the bank.

Besides Pawar, the other accused in the case include Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil and bank officials in 34 districts in the state.  The accused allegedly were complicit in causing losses worth Rs 1,000 crore to Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank between 2007 and 2011.

An audit report by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) had  alleged that there was a violation of several banking laws and Reserve Bank guidelines in the distribution of loans to sugar factories and spinning mills in the four-year period. A local activist Surinder Arora had filed a complaint in connection with the case in 2015.

Ajit Pawar, who is the nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, had served as deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra from November 10, 2010 to September 26, 2014.