Congress leader Ashok Chavan today alleged in the Bombay High Court that the decision of the Maharashtra governor in 2016 granting sanction to the CBI to prosecute him in the Adarsh housing society scam was “politically motivated and biased”.
Chavan’s counsel Amit Desai told a division bench of justices R V More and Sadhana Jadhav that while in December 2013, the then governor had refused to grant sanction to the CBI to prosecute him, the central probing agency later sought to review the order claiming change in circumstances and fresh material in the form of evidence.
“The February 2016 order passed by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao is motivated by change in political circumstances and not by any change in evidence. The order is politically biased and motivated,” Desai alleged. The bench was hearing a petition filed by Chavan challenging the governor’s decision.
In February last year, Rao had granted sanction to the CBI to prosecute Chavan for offences under IPC sections 120 (b)(criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Desai argued that in December 2013, when the then Governor K Sankaranarayanan refused permission to sanction Chavan, the CBI accepted it and in January 2014 filed an application before the special CBI court seeking to delete Chavan’s name from the charge sheet.
“The decision in 2013 was passed after the then governor went through the material submitted by the CBI against Chavan and applied his mind. If CBI felt that the decision was wrong then it could have challenged it in court,” he said. When the high court in November 2014 dismissed the application filed by CBI seeking deletion of Chavan’s name from the case, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya wrote to the state government seeking review of the governor’s order, Desai claimed.
“After the BJP came to power in Maharashtra, the CBI, at the behest of the state government, sought review of the 2013 order of the governor refusing sanction. The CBI did not act on its own. We allege political bias. Chavan was gaining political mileage,” Desai said.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh today made a submission asking Chavan to delete the name of Rao as respondent in the petition and said the administrative order passed by the governor is being challenged and the petition can be heard on merits. Desai conceded and said the petition would be amended and the governor’s name would be removed as respondent. The court will continue hearing the petition tomorrow. Chavan, in his petition, alleged that the governor’s order was “arbitrary, illegal and unjust” and passed without “proper application of mind” and with “mala fide intentions”.
The CBI had accused Chavan of approving additional floor space index for Adarsh society in return of two flats for his relatives. He was also charged with illegally approving, as the then revenue minister, allotment of 40 per cent of the flats to civilians.