Don't let off Chavan, try him under anti-graft act Court

Don't let off Chavan, try him under anti-graft act Court

In a major jolt to former chief minister of Maharashtra Ashok Chavan, a special court in Mumbai on Saturday rejected the request of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to drop his name from the list of accused in a charge sheet it has filed in the Adarsh Housing Society scam case.

Judge S G Dighe, while delivering his ruling, said the CBI’s plea “stands rejected” and dismissed the plea. He added that even though Governor K Sankaranarayanan has rejected the CBI's plea for sanction to prosecute Chavan, “then Prevention of Corruption Act is there under which he can be tried because he has been accused of criminal misconduct.”

Special Public Prosecutor Bharat Badami, in his arguments, said the agency wants to prosecute the former chief minister. “But, then our hands are tied. There is no provision under the law to appeal against the governor's denial of sanction. Of course the agency can request him for a review of his decision if it has additional evidence against Chavan, but then that is not the case,” he said.

On January 15, the CBI moved an application seeking permission to delete Chavan's name from the list of the 13 accused charge-sheeted in the case, since the governor had turned down their appeal and at this juncture it was “non-appealable”.

Earlier, Chavan had challenged the inclusion of his name in the charge sheet on the grounds that the agency had not taken a sanction for prosecution from the governor; the CBI had then argued that since Chavan had already stepped down from the chief minister's post at the time of preparation of the charge sheet, gubernatorial approval was not mandatory.

Apart from the parallel probe being carried out by the CBI, the state government had instituted a two-member quasi-judicial commission to look into the matter; the commission in its report indicted the former chief minister, stating that the “membership process clearly indicates that grant of requisite permission by Chavan was by way of a quid pro quo.”

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