Justifying Maharashtra governor’s order granting sanction to prosecute Congress MP Ashok Chavan in the multi-crore Adarsh society scam, the BJP government in the state today told the Bombay High Court that the step was neither politically motivated nor illegal. “The Governor has recorded his satisfaction that prima facie there is certainly a nexus established between all the acts of the petitioner (Chavan) while handling files pertaining to Adarsh and the benefits derived by his close relatives in the form of membership in the Adarsh society,” the government stated in an affidavit.
Chavan has also prima facie been found “to be tainted with criminality” by a two-member judicial commission set up by the government, said the affidavit. It was filed in response to a petition by Chavan, who is also a former Maharashtra chief minister, challenging a decision of Governor C Vidyasagar Rao granting sanction to the CBI to prosecute him in the Adarsh case. Chavan’s petition had termed the governor’s order as “arbitrary, illegal and unjust” and passed without “proper application of mind” and with “malafide intentions”.
In February last year, Governor Rao had granted sanction to CBI to prosecute Chavan for offences under IPC sections 120 (b)(criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
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The government in its affidavit today denied that the order granting sanction was politically motivated and passed without proper application of mind. “It is denied that the proposal for sanction is politically motivated. It is denied that the order is biased and premeditated and the result of political motivations and escalations of the BJP government or a part of its strategy to destroy or neutralise the petitioner (Chavan),” the affidavit said.
The affidavit was filed by Somnath Bagul, Joint Secretary of the government’s General Administration Department. It said that the Governor sought advice from the Council of Ministers and after applying his mind to the material found it fit to grant sanction. It further said that the CBI approached the Governor for the second time seeking sanction as there was additional and fresh material against Chavan.
The CBI relied on a report submitted by the two-member judicial commission set up by the government to inquire into the Adarsh scam. It said that even the high court in an order passed last year for the Adarsh building to be demolished had directed the government to initiate criminal action not only against the concerned bureaucrats but also against the concerned ministers and politicians.
The affidavit was submitted today to a division bench of Justices R V More and Anuja Prabhudessai who posted the petition for further hearing in June.
The CBI had accused Chavan of approving additional floor space index for Adarsh society in return of two flats for his relatives. He was also charged with illegally approving, as the then Revenue Minister, allotment of 40 per cent of the flats to civilians.
While the CBI named him as an accused in its FIR, in December 2013 the then Governor K Sankaranarayanan refused permission to it to prosecute Chavan in the scam.
However, in March 2015 the high court dismissed a plea by Chavan, who is the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Nanded, seeking deletion of his name from the case, as the Governor had refused to grant sanction. Following this, the CBI re-approached the governor seeking sanction, which was granted in February 2016.