The Bank of Maharashtra’s (BoM) response is, in a word, entertaining. Even while defending its charge sheet against Mr. Tuljapurkar, the bank was negotiating an agreement with the Union that all proceedings against him “will be put on hold “till the Courts and government deal with the matter.” BoM’s response makes no mention of this, though the agreement with the Union was signed by the Bank of Maharashtra General Manager (HRM), P.S. Vengurlekar. A copy of the agreement is with The Hindu.

The bank’s argument that the Rs.150 crore loan to United Spirits Ltd was out in the open and there is “nothing to be blown in the matter” is even more entertaining. In their response to The Hindu’s story of July 7, 2012 on the subject, when asked whether all Reserve Bank of India directives had been met in making the loan, BoM had refused to discuss it on grounds of “confidentiality and secrecy of its constituents’ accounts.”

On the case in the courts, the bank is entirely wrong. It accuses Mr. Tuljapurkar of “concealing” that “a criminal trial was pending” and that he had been directed to “face the trial launched against him.” There was and is no trial. There was an FIR. To this day, no charges have been framed in the matter in 19 years: so where’s the trial? The bank’s own response notes the Supreme Court had granted a stay on the proceedings against Mr. Tuljapurkar.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Latur noted, even while denying a move to discharge Mr. Tuljapurkar from the case, that “in my view, the poem in question is an honest criticism without malicious intention…” The bank’s actions seem the opposite: more malicious than honest. BoM argues that Mr. Tuljapurkar concealed this information for 19 years. Why was the bank silent for 19 years? The controversy was a very public one in 1994. And how did the police give Mr. Tuljapurkar the clearance required (as did the bank) for his appointment as Workman Director on the bank’s board in 2004?

Also, the FIR was against Mr. Tuljapurkar in his capacity as an individual who happened to be editor of the Bulletin that had published the poem critical of Mahatma Gandhi’s followers. It had nothing to do with the bank, banking, or any record of his as an employee (which is impeccable).

alok.deshpande@thehindu.co.in

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