CBI to drop charges against Chavan

Sleuths look to dig fresh evidence in Adarsh case

CBI to drop charges against Chavan

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday approached a special court in Mumbai and requested charges against former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh housing scam to be dropped after Governor K Sankaranarayanan’s refusal to grant sanction for prosecution.

This was done after the CBI decided against seeking a review of the governor’s refusal to grant sanction to prosecute Chavan in the Adarsh case. Chavan enjoyed immunity from prosecution by virtue of his position as chief minister.

The CBI told judge S G Dighe that governor’s decision “is non-appealable" and they would like to drop the charges. The court will pronounce its order on the matter on Saturday.

If the court accepts CBI's plea, it will come as a huge relief for the Congress party and Chavan, the only former chief minister to have been accused in the case.

The move comes a fortnight after the state government reversed its position and accepted a commission of inquiry’s indictment of Chavan and other politicians, including Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. But no action is being taken against them by the government.

The decision evoked criticism from former CBI Director Joginder Singh. “What can they do? The CBI is still not independent and government still has control over it. Now, we do not have a government of the people but of the parties.  So this is bound to happen,” he told Deccan Herald.

CBI officials said the agency would not seek an immediate review of their application seeking Chavan's prosecution by Sankaranarayanan. Officials said a legal opinion they received “allows them to seek a review if it brings new evidence or shows a legal infirmity in the order.”

 Officials said it was not prudent for them to go back to the governor for a review, since they had placed all their evidence against Chavan before the latter. They said they would wait for new evidence to emerge to tackle the matter. 

Chavan, who was among 12 people chargesheeted by the CBI in the case, had challenged being named in the charge sheet. The court had directed the CBI to get permission to prosecute Chavan. 

“We do not have any legal remedy now. It is for the court to look into the matter,” CBI Director Ranjit Sinha said in December.

In its chargesheet, the CBI had claimed that Chavan had increased the floor space index of the controversial Adarsh Society in exchange for two flats being allotted to his relatives. 

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