Adarsh scam: HC bench recuses itself

A day after former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan moved the Bombay High Court seeking the quashing of the FIR filed against him in the Adarsh Housing Society scam,a division bench hearing the case recused itself from hearing the case on Tuesday.

Written by Express News Service | Published: August 29, 2012 2:54:46 am

A day after former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan moved the Bombay High Court seeking the quashing of the FIR filed against him in the Adarsh Housing Society scam,a division bench hearing the case recused itself from hearing the case on Tuesday.

On being informed Chavan was represented by the law firm Federal and Rashmikant,the division bench of Justice S A Bobde and Justice R G Ketkar recused itself and said,“Not before us”. Although the judges did not cite any reasons,it is learnt that Justice Bobde had recused himself from hearing any cases filed through the law firm as a member of his family is employed with it.

It is common practice for judges to recuse themselves from cases filed through law firms which their kin or they,as members of the bar,had been associated with. However,the bench’s recusal would mean that the group of PILs against the scam-ridden highrise in Colaba will now have to be heard afresh by another bench. The cases will be referred to the Chief Justice who will then assign it to another bench.

The group of PILs includes those filed by activist Simpreet Singh urging the court to monitor the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) probe into the case and that filed by activist Praveen Wategaonkar seeking the invocation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,2002.

However,since the Adarsh Housing Society and the state government have questioned the CBI’s jurisdiction to probe the high-profile case,the court may first have to deal with their contentions. The applications filed by Chavan and P V Deshmukh,former Deputy Secretary,Urban Development Department,also an accused in the case,have also stated that the CBI does not have the jurisdiction to probe the case.

“The investigation and the FIR being ex-facie without jurisdiction are illegal,arbitrary,unreasonable,unjustified,unconstitutional and an infringement on the life and liberty of the applicant (Chavan) without following the due procedure of law,” Chavan’s application stated.

The state government,in an affidavit,had stated that it had not made any request to the CBI to investigate into the Adarsh Housing Society scam but had co-operated with the central agency during its probe.

The Ministry of Defence in its reply had,however,said,“…the belated attempt to scuttle the probe almost completed by the CBI is illegal and with mala fide intention.”

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