Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday gave sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam.
“The sanction has been given under section 197 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure), for offences under sections 120-B (conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of IPC (Indian Penal Code) in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society case,” the Raj Bhavan said in a release to the media.
The decision comes days after the BJP-led government in the state recommended action against the Congress leader, and against the backdrop of the arrest of former MP Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of NCP leader Chagan Bhujbal, on money laundering charges.
The joint director, CBI, Mumbai, through a letter dated October 8, 2015, had sought the permission to prosecute Chavan on the basis of additional or fresh material, namely the report of Justice Patil Commission of Inquiry and the observation of the High Court of Bombay in the criminal revision application number 136 of 2014.
Chavan, a Lok Sabha member from Nanded, had to step down as chief minister after the scam surfaced in 2010. He was among the 12 persons chargesheeted by the probe agency in connection with the case.
CBI had alleged that Chavan suggested inclusion of civilian members in Adarsh Housing Society, meant for war veterans and widows of defence personnel, to secure flats for his relatives in the plush complex situated at Colaba in south Mumbai.
With the Governor granting permission to the premier investigating agency, the only question now discussed in the political circles is will Chavan get the backing of the party high command to continue as party state chief or will he have to step down.
While a section of the party leaders feel that the party cannot afford embarrassment at this stage another section in the party feels that the party high command should firmly back Chavan’s claim that the CBI action is a fall-out of political vendetta, by the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state.
Speaking to mediapersons in Palghar, Chavan said the case was nothing but political vendetta. He said that when the previous Governor had rejected the permission to CBI how much appropriate is a change in Raj Bhavan decision soon after the change of guards in state and at the Centre.
In December 2013, the then Governor K Sankaranarayanan had refused sanction to CBI to prosecute Chavan in the Adarsh housing scam, leaving the agency with no choice but to close the case against him.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Sachin Savant said that it was surprising to see that even though there are no new evidences nor any new inquiry, the Governor has given his nod.
He alleged that it was after wrote a letter to state Government it is beyond anyone’s grasp as to how can state Government approach CBI for prosecuting Chavan.
Meanwhile, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who took up the issue again after Fadnavis government assumed office, welcomed the decision and said that previous Governor K Sankarnarayanan in December 2013 had taken a wrong decision, which has now been rectified.