In a setback to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday rejected the plea of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to drop Chavan’s name from the list of accused in the chargesheet in the Adarsh Society case.
In an order delivered through video-conference from Bombay High Court’s Nagpur bench, Justice M L Tahaliyani said he was inclined to reject the petition. He observed that the Special CBI judge took cognizance of the offence saying in “very unambiguous” language that Chavan’s exoneration for want of sanction from the Governor for prosecution of the offences under the IPC did not entitle relief from other offences under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.
“It is, thus, clear that the learned trial judge has given a finding that despite the application by CBI for closing the case or deleting name of respondent number 2 (Chavan), it was not possible to do so because the offence punishable under Section 13 (2) (PC Act) is independent of the offences for which the sanction has been refused by the Governor. For all these reasons, the application has been rightly rejected. There is no substance in the revision application,” Justice Tahaliyani ruled.
Justice Tahaliyani had on October 15 reserved the order on the CBI’s application seeking Chavan’s discharge from the case. The CBI’s contention had been that the then Governor had refused to grant sanction for the prosecution of the former CM.
Chavan’s lawyer, senior counsel Amit Desai, had then said the likes of former CM Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar, former minister Jayant Patil and bureaucrat D Shankaran had not been made accused despite their relatives getting membership in the housing society.
As far as granting 15 per cent exemption for recreation ground (RG) space was concerned, Desai contended that not granting benefit of the exemption to the society would have meant discrimination as it was in public interest and led to legal implications. “The process had begun several months before he became the CM,” said Desai.
In addition, the CBI’s lawyer Hiten Venegaonkar had told the court that former Governor K Sankaranarayanan had refused to grant sanction on the ground that there was no material given by CBI to show criminal conspiracy or to prosecute him under Section 120 (b) of the IPC.
Relying on this, Venegaonkar contended that Section 13 1(d) (criminal misconduct by government servant) of the PCA would not stand as the allegations were only of granting exemption of 15 per cent RG to Adarsh, but it was within his powers.