Adarsh scam: Ex-Maha CM Ashok Chavan moves SC against HC order

New Delhi: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Monday moved the Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court decision dismissing his plea seeking recall of an earlier order, by which it had denied deletion of his name from list of accused in the multi-crore Adarsh housing society scam case.

A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar agreed to hear on April 24 the plea of the Congress leader against the High Court order and asked Maharashtra's counsel to take an adjournment in the hearing before the trial court in the case. 

Ashok Chavan
Ashok Chavan

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid, former Law Minister and External Affairs Minister respectively, assailed the order of the high court against their party colleague Chavan.

"I have a problem with the impugned order. The special Judge states that the congnizance of the offence (against Chavan) has not been taken. The High Court states that the cognizance has been taken," Sibal said.

The High Court's order that cognizance of the offence has already been taken is "erroneous" as for taking judicial note of the crime, a trial court "will have to issue process (summon)", he said, adding that this was not done.

Sibal said a separate plea, challenging constitutional validity of section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, under which Chavan is also charged, is pending with the apex court on the ground that it can be invoked without the accused having "mens rea" (intention to commit an offence).

The plea challenging the validity of the PC Act provision was recently filed by Hindalco Industries Ltd in a coal block allocation case in which former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also made an accused. The apex court had later stayed the trial court proceedings in the matter. 

The bench today asked senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Maharashtra, to respond to the plea of Chavan. 

Earlier, the High Court had dismissed Chavan's appeal to recall an earlier order refusing to delete his name from the Adarsh Housing Society scam case.

Chavan had filed the plea in the High Court in December last year seeking to recall an order passed by it refusing CBI the permission to drop his name from the Adarsh case.

The HC order refusing to recall the earlier ruling had paved way for Chavan's prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly misusing his official position to grant favours to the Adarsh society, meant exclusively for defence personnel.

The CBI had first approached the trial court seeking to drop Chavan's name as an accused on the ground that the Governor had refused to sanction his prosecution. As the CBI court rejected it, the agency moved the HC.

However, the High Court had dismissed CBI's application last November after observing that the Governor had refused sanction for prosecution for conspiracy charge under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), but he can still be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The chargesheet not only alleges conspiracy but also refers to Chavan's individual acts when he was the Revenue
Minister and later the Chief Minister, HC judge had said.

"...Charges levelled against Chavan for the alleged individual acts cannot go away only because the Governor has refused to grant sanction for prosecuting him for conspiracy and cheating," Justice Tahaliyani had said.

According to CBI, Chavan suggested inclusion of civilian members in the Adarsh housing society to get flats for his own relatives. 

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