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HC bench recuses itself from hearing petition in Adarsh case

The Bombay High Court on Friday recused itself from hearing a petition seeking a direction to CBI to produce evidence during its probe into the Adarsh Housing Society scam on the basis of which it had given a clean chit to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, sitting in a division bench with Justice P V Hardas, said, “Not before us,” when the matter came up before them.

However, the bench did not assign any reason for not hearing the matter.

This is the second time the HC has refused to hear this petition. In June last, another bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode had recused itself from hearing the matter.

This petition was tagged on to another petition which had sought to make Shinde as an accused in the Adarsh housing scam case. The HC has recused itself from both the petitions filed by Praveen Wategaonkar, an activist.

Wategaonkar had in July 2013 filed the petition seeking to make Shinde as an accused.

However, in its reply on October 9, 2013, the CBI gave a clean chit to Shinde, saying they had probed the case and found evidence against the former Union Home Minister as “deficient and insufficient.”

The petitioner argued that Adarsh Commission, in its report tabled before the Maharashtra Legislature, had observed that Shinde, in his capacity as chief minister, had failed to pay attention to a suggestion given by the finance department against allotment of land to the Adarsh housing society.

The petitioner further said that the Adarsh Commission report had also concluded that “Shinde had failed to note this and acted in undue haste to bestow benefit on the society.”

The Maharashtra government had on June 9, 2011, appointed a two-member judicial commission, led by retired Bombay High Court Judge J A Patil, with former state Chief Secretary P Subramanian being the member, to investigate the alleged irregularities and corruption.

Seeking the court’s direction to CBI to produce all evidence it had gathered, Wategaonkar argued that though the CBI did not find any evidence against Shinde, the Adarsh panel has stated that Shinde had failed to act in Adarsh case.

The CBI had stated in its affidavit filed before the High Court in 2013 that there is no evidence to suggest that Shinde, during his tenure as Maharashtra Chief Minister, had abused his position as a public servant.

The petitioner told reporters that he would move another bench of HC to hear both the petitions.

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