CBI has no jurisdiction to probe Adarsh: Maha Govt tells HC

MUMBAI, June 18:
Maharashtra Government today contested in the Bombay High Court the CBI’s jurisdiction to probe the Adarsh Housing scam, nearly a year-and-a-half after it registered an FIR in the case involving former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, bureaucrats and retired army officers.
State Government’s counsel Anil Sakhare told the court that the CBI did not have the jurisdiction to probe the matter as neither the State Government nor the High Court had handed over the investigation to it.
A division bench of justices S A Bobade and Mridula Bhatkar directed Sakhare to file an affidavit stating that the State Government had not given its consent to CBI to investigate the scam.
“A judicial commission has already submitted a report stating that the land where the Adarsh building stands belongs to the State Government and not the Defence Ministry. Hence CBI cannot come into the picture. Under the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act under which CBI has been formed, the agency can probe a matter only if the State Government or the High Court hands over probe,” Sakhare argued.
Senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Adarsh society, also argued that CBI does not have jurisdiction to investigate the matter. The court directed the society also to file an application on this.
Meanwhile, the CBI, which had assured the court at the last hearing on April 30 that it would file a charge sheet in the case by June 15, today said it would be submitted within 10 days.
“Investigations are at the fag end. Charge sheet will be filed within 10 days,” CBI counsel Ejaz Khan told the court after which the bench adjourned the hearing till July 4.
CBI had begun a probe in the Adarsh scam in 2010 on the directions of the Ministry of Defence.
In January 2011, the agency had registered a case against 14 persons including former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, retired army officers, politicians and bureaucrats.
Although 9 of the accused were arrested in March this year they were subsequently released on bail after CBI failed to file charge sheet within the stipulated 60-day period.
Of the nine accused, those who secured bail include IAS officer Pradeep Vyas, former deputy secretary in Urban Development Department P V Deshmukh, Brigadier (retd) M M Wanchoo, retired Defence Estates Officer R C Thakur, Major General (Retd) A R Kumar, Major Gen (Retd) T K Kaul and former MLC Kanhaiyyalal Gidwani.
The accused have been charged with criminal conspiracy and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act.
The scam pertains to alleged irregularities in securing various clearances in violation of environmental and other norms relating to construction and allotment of flats in the 32-storey building said to have been originally meant for families of Kargil heroes and war widows in upmarket Colaba in south Mumbai.
The MoD had ordered a CBI probe in the Adarsh scam on the recommendation of the Army Chief following a preliminary inquiry.
Besides CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department are also probing the irregularities.
Apart from Chavan, two former Maharashtra Chief Ministers Sushilkumar Shinde and Vilasrao Deshmukh are also under the lens for granting various clearances in violation of norms. (PTI)