Are you protecting the accused: HC asks CBI
By: A Correspondent
Central Bureau of Investigation's perennial go-slow policy in most cases where political heavyweights are enmeshed came in for sharp censure from Bombay High Court yesterday apropos the Adarsh Housing Society scam.
Recently, CBI counsel Mandar Goswami was arrested for allegedly accepting bribe from one of the prime accused in the Adarsh scam Kanhaiyalal Gidwani
The court has ordered departmental inquiries to be initiated against all government officers allegedly involved in the scam. CBI had filed its progress report pertaining to the investigation before the court on Monday.
A bench comprising justices PB Majmudar and RD Dhanuka also questioned the investigating agency's delay in taking action against suspects. Not a single arrest has been made yet against any person accused in the scam.
Justice Majmudar observed, "[The progress reports] in our opinion make out a prima facie case against the people named in them. You must register an FIR against these persons and launch the prosecution. Are you feeling shy or just protecting the accused?"
Some of the persons named in the progress reports are politicians and high-ranking bureaucrats.
"In service jurisprudence, if departmental inquiry against government officers is contemplated, or if a criminal case is to be registered, the officers can be suspended," the court observed, adding, "No one has been suspended in connection with the Adarsh scam so far."
CBI, represented by advocates Ejaz Khan and K Sudhakar, tried to seek time and claimed the charge sheet would be ready within two months.
The court, however, hauled up the agency for not taking action based on the prima facie evidence itself. "Filing of charge sheet should not stop you (CBI) from arresting the accused.
In several cases, CBI arrests the accused first and then files charge sheet. Why are you making an exception in this case?" Justice Majmudar asked.
Commenting on the agency's reluctance to proceed in the investigation, the court added, "The people look up to you and you must restore their faith in the system.
If you want a corruption-free society, it is in your hands. You must be loyal to the oaths you have taken. As long as the officer is honest and his cause is justice, he should not be afraid. [They] are the backbone of our country."
'A little indulgence'
Additional Solicitor-General Darius J Khambatta, who appeared on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), said, "Good officers need the indulgence of the court."
CBI, ED and the I-T department will also have to pool all their resources in order to complete the scam investigations in a timely manner, the court observed.
"Since the cause of action of all investigating agencies is essentially the same and the ultimate object is the truth, the agencies must work jointly so the investigation can progress scientifically and quickly," said Justice Majmudar.
The court also warned that no details of the probe must be leaked for fear of alerting persons who are implicated.
The court was hearing a batch of public interest litigations filed by social activists Simpreet Singh and Pravin Wategaonkar seeking monitoring of the probe by the HC and invoking provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the case.
The bench while adjourning the matter till March 22, warned the probe agency that it would summon the CBI director if 'concrete steps' were not taken.
"We are giving you (CBI) last chance. If you don't take concrete steps we will summon the CBI director from Delhi."
The late mother-in-law and sister-in-law of ex-CM Ashok Chavan had flats in the society. Chavan was revenue minister between 2001-2003 and had dealt with files pertaining to the ownership of the land.
He is alleged to have recommended 40 per cent allotment of flats to civilians in the Adarsh HSG, which was meant for war widows and heroes of Kargil war.
Two former army chiefs Gen Deepak Kapoor and Gen N C Vij and ex-navy chief Admiral Madhavendra Singh owned flats in the society in upscale Colaba. However, they claimed to have surrendered the accommodations after the scam was unearthed.