Mumbai, Nov 19 (IANS) In a major setback to former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, the Bombay High Court Wednesday rejected a CBI plea to drop his name from the list of accused in the Adarsh Society scam case.
Justice M.L. Tahiliyani gave the rulling on the revision application of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the agency’s earlier plea on the same was rejected by a special CBI court in January, said Ashish Mehta, a lawyer who had earlier represented one of the petitioners in the case.
“I am inclined to reject the petition,” Justice Tahiliyani said in the terse order delivered via teleconference from Nagpur, where he now presides over a bench of the Bombay High Court.
The detailed order would follow soon, but Justice Tahilyani stayed the implementation of his order for four weeks to allow the CBI appeal against it in the Supreme Court.
The ruling could prove to be a major setback to the 56-year-old Chavan, as he will have to face trial as an accused, Mehta said.
Chavan and 12 others were charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct under the Indian Penal Code and also under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Earlier, former Maharashtra governor K. Sankaranarayanan refused sanction to prosecute Chavan for want of evidence against him.
The CBI contended before the court that since the governor refused to grant sanction, and it has no material to prosecute Chavan, the agency hould be allowed to discharge Chavan from the case.
Chavan was charged with providing additional FSI to the Adarsh Soiety allegedly in return for flats for his relatives in the posh building in south Mumbai.
The CBI said that during his tenure as the state revenue minister, Chavan granted approval for permitting 40 percent of the total flats to civilians though the Adarsh Society was meant to house Kargil widows, war heroes and defence personnel.
Chavan resigned as chief minister after the scam was exposed in 2010 and was replaced by Prithviraj Chavan.
Soon after the court ruling, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government would ensure “corrective measure wherever rules and laws have not been followed”.
“Wherever there has been any wrongdoing, we shall pursue the matter and take appropriate corrective measures,” Fadnavis said, when asked whether the refusal of sanction by the former governor to prosecute Chavan was allegedly due to political pressures of the previous Congress-NCP government.
The 31-storey Adarsh Society building stands on a prime piece of land in Colaba in south Mumbai. Top politicians and bureaucrats were accused of a nexus to bypass rules and corner the posh flats at cheap rates.
In January 2011, the Maharashtra government appointed a two-member commission headed by retired high court judge, Justice J.A. Patil, and former state chief secretary P.A. Subramanian to probe the issue.
In April 2013, the commission submitted its final report after examining 182 witnesses, including four former chief ministers — Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh (who has since died), Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar, and two former ministers Rajesh Tope and Sunil Tatkare, besides a dozen top bureaucrats to probe various alleged illegalities in the Adarsh Society.