Adarsh scam returns to haunt Ashok Chavan

Former CM to be tried for criminal conspiracy, cheating; Chavan claims his trial is 'political vendetta'

Former chief minister Ashok Chavan, one of the 13 accused in the Adarsh housing scam, will now be tried for being part of criminal conspiracy and cheating. The development occurred after Governor C Vidyasagar Rao reviewed his predecessor’s decision denying permission to the CBI to prosecute the Maharshtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPPCC) chief.

The controversial Adarsh housing society. File pics
The controversial Adarsh housing society. File pic

Chavan is accused of granting various permissions to the promoters of the Adarsh society in exchange for flats in the south Mumbai tower. Findings of a judicial commission headed by Justice (retd) J A Patil had indicted Chavan of quid pro quo. While 12 accused were arrested and did time in jail before being released on bail, Chavan enjoyed freedom because the then governor, K Sankaranarayan, had stayed his prosecution. The 12 accused include a few serving and retired bureaucrats.

The CBI had filed a First Information Report (FIR) in January 2011. In July 2012, the agency chargesheeted the 13 accused, including Chavan, in the special CBI court for criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct under sections 120 (B) and 420 of the Indian Penal Code and section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

As per statement released by Raj Bhavan last afternoon, Joint Director of CBI had last year sought sanction for Chavan’s prosecution under Section 197 of the CrPC on the basis of the additional or fresh material — the report of Justice Patil Commission of Enquiry and the observations of the Bombay High Court. The Maharashtra Council of Ministers has advised the governor to allow Chavan’s prosecution.

To walk free?
Sources in the government said Chavan was likely to escape the arrest because all investigations in the case have already been done. Also, the ex-CM moved the apex court against the HC’s order of refusing to discharge him from the case. Chavan is also likely to challenge the governor’s move, said a senior Congress leader. His trial would be held in Mumbai only after the apex court’s directive.

Chavan slammed the BJP government for pursuing a political agenda against him. He said the findings of the judicial inquiry commission could not be the basis for granting the CBI permission to prosecute him.

“The commission has not found anything against me that can lead to criminal proceedings against me,” he said, adding that the state-appointed commission’s report cannot be taken as evidence by the CBI. “It is nothing but a political agenda. They are misusing the CBI,” he said.

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