A PIL in the Bombay High Court, which seeks to prosecute former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in Adarsh housing society scam, alleged that four “heavyweights” had not been arraigned by the CBI as accused although they had allegedly acquired flats by “fraudulent” means.
The petitioner, Ketan Tirodar, alleged in a rejoinder filed today that these four beneficiaries were Devyani Uttam Khobragade, a former Indian diplomat to US, Bhagwati Sharma, mother-in-law of Ashok Chavan, Madan Sharma, brother of father-in-law of Ashok Chavan and former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu. Tirodkar said that the CBI had informed in its affidavit that it had sent a detailed note to the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra for taking action as deemed fit against “such ineligible members.”
He referred to CBI’s affidavit which said that Adarsh Society had allotted membership to these four persons in violation of prescribed eligibility criteria. All of them got flats at a throw away prices in a posh area in South Mumbai. The CBI had also said in its affidavit that the officers who had helped these four in getting the flats had been arraigned as accused in the main chargesheet filed in this case, said Tirodkar.
However, the petitioner questioned why the CBI had written to the Chief Secretary seeking action against these four beneficiaries. “Why these four heavyweights had not been arraigned as accused when the officers who helped them in getting flats were named in the chargesheet as offenders?,” he asked.
The petitioner urged the high court to order the investigative agency to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate “the conspiracy to save former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan” in this case.
He also pleaded that such an SIT should report directly to CBI Director Ranjit Sinha.
A bench of Justices P V Hardas and Anuja Prabhudessai gave two weeks to the agency to file a counter reply to Tirodkar’s rejoinder.
CBI had in its affidavit earlier said that the Governor of Maharashtra (the competent authority) had refused its request to grant sanction to prosecute Ashok Chavan for offences such as conspiracy and cheating. The petitioner today cited a Supreme Court judgement which says that sanction to prosecute is not necessary in cases where probe is monitored by the high court. In this case also, sanction to prosecute Chavan was not necessary.
Tirodkar also sought a report on investigation into ‘benami’ (proxy) purchases of flats in the society. In many cases, people standing in as proxies for prominent political leaders, have allegedly bought flats in the multi-story society which stands in South Mumbai, the PIL says. The society allegedly came up in violation of various civic as well as environmental rules. The CBI charge sheet last year named Chavan and 12 others as the accused; however the Governor of Maharashtra refused to sanction Chavan’s prosecution.
Chavan has been accused of granting certain illegal concessions to the society in return for two flats for his relatives. Meanwhile, the same bench adjourned by two weeks another PIL, filed by activist Praveen Wategaonkar, which sought a direction to CBI to register FIR against former Chief Minister SushilKumar Shinde for allegedly helping some ineligible beneficiaries get flats in Adarsh Society.