The CBI will not be able to prosecute former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan in the multi-crore Adarsh housing scam as Governor K Sankaranarayanan has refused to sanction his prosecution.
While 11 others charge-sheeted in the scam face trial, Chavan may walk free. He had to resign as the chief minister after the scam surfaced.
“We do not have any legal remedy now. It is for the court to look into the matter,” CBI Director Ranjit Sinha said on the governor's refusal to grant the sanction.
This was not the first instance of authorities refusing to sanction prosecution of prominent leaders, resulting in dropping of charges against them. Uttar Pradesh Governor T V Rajeswar had rejected the CBI's plea for charge-sheeting BSP chief and former chief minister Mayawati in the Taj Corridor case, leading to dropping of charges against her. Former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta also escaped trial in the Letter of Credit scam after erstwhile governor S K Sinha declined the CBI's demand for prosecution.
Chavan, who was among the 12 people charged by the CBI, had challenged in a court his inclusion in the charge sheet, claiming that no sanction for prosecution was taken from the governor. The CBI defended its action saying a sanction was not needed as Chavan was not a serving minister at the time of charge-sheeting.
The court, however, directed the CBI to get the sanction. The agency then approached the governor.
The CBI had given a clean chit to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who earlier held the chief minister’s post and another former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
CBI officials claimed that they had provided detailed evidence against Chavan, which included 150 documents.
In its charge sheet, the CBI claimed that Chavan increased floor space index of the controversial Adarsh Society in lieu of two flats for his relatives. Chavan also allegedly asked the society to take 40 per cent members from the civilian category, when it was meant only for war veterans.
The irregularities came to light in 2007-08 when the Medha Patkar-led National Alliance People's Movement alleged that sanction of the 31-storey building was given in contravention of environmental regulations and Costal Zone Regulations.