Court pulls up CBI for tardy Adarsh scam probe

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday slammed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED-FEMA) for their sluggish investigations into the Adarsh housing scam. The court also directed the Enforcement Directorate to submit a status report in the case.

The court asked the Enforcement Directorate director to be present at the court on March 12.

Hearing petitions filed by social activists Simpreet Singh and Pravin Wategaonkar seeking judicial monitoring of the probe into the scam, the court  dropped hints that the “formation of a special investigating team may be ordered, if status reports fail to be convincing.”

The petitioners had also pleaded for a probe into the hawala and possible money laundering transactions in the procurement of apartments in Adarsh Housing Society.

However, much to the shock of the division bench of justices P B Majmudar and R D Dhanuka, Enforcement Directorate counsel informed the court that the agency was “awaiting for the CBI to start its own investigation into the alleged money laundering transactions in Adarsh Scam.”

The court in its oral remarks castigated the anti-money laundering agency: “Why should an independent investigating agency wait for another agency to complete its probe? Please ask the Enforcement Directorate director to be present in the court at the next hearing.”

The court thereafter asked CBI counsel to explain the delay in its investigations. “ Enquiries started last year in January...and you have still not finished your investigations. No doubt the matter is sensitive as scrutiny involves big names but then even the credibility of the agency is also at stake.”

CBI counsel, explaining the delay, stated that during scrutiny of the documents suspicions of a possible “benami” transaction also cropped up, as it seemed that several members “...are just front persons and tracking down the trail of money has taken a major chunk of enquiry time.”

The court also posed a question to the state government as to the reason behind the delay in “cancelling the allotments of members who are reportedly benami buyers.”

The public prosecutor, however, said that the government was awaiting the CBI report.

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