In fresh trouble for former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday gave sanction to the CBI to prosecute Chavan in the Adarsh scam case.
"Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao today gave his sanction to CBI to prosecute former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ashok Chavan, under section 197 of CrPC, for offences under sections 120-B (conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of IPC in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society case," an official in the Governor's office said.
"The Governor had recently sought the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers and was advised by the Council of Ministers to grant the sanction(to CBI)," he added.
This development comes just days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday night arrested former MP Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, in a money laundering case in Mumbai. That arrest had come hours after the ED conducted multiple searches in Mumbai in connection with its money laundering probe against former Maharashtra PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal and others.
The CBI had approached the Maharashtra governor seeking sanction to prosecute Chavan in connection with the Adarsh Housing Society corruption case in late January.
CBI sources in New Delhi had said the agency had approached Rao after it got "fresh evidence" against Chavan in the case.
In December 2013, the then Governor K Sankaranarayan had refused sanction to CBI to prosecute Chavan in the Adarsh housing scam, leaving the agency with no choice but to close the case against him.
Chavan, who had to resign as Chief Minister after the scam surfaced in 2010, was among the 12 persons who were chargesheeted by the agency in connection with the case.
CBI had alleged that Chavan suggested inclusion of civilian members in Adarsh Housing Society meant for war veterans and widows of defence personnel, to secure flats for his relatives. CBI had first approached a trial court seeking to drop Chavan's name as an accused on the ground that the Governor had refused to sanction his prosecution. As the CBI court rejected it, the agency moved the Bombay High Court.
The High Court too dismissed CBI's application last November observing that the Governor had refused sanction for prosecution for conspiracy charges under the Indian Penal Code but Chavan could still be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Chavan reacted to this development in the case in a way which seems to be turning into Congress leaders' standard response whenever any allegations of corruption are made against them. "This is clear political vendetta of the BJP govenrment against me," Chavan said.
"CBI's re-application to the Governor to prosecute me (in Adarsh scam) is illegal. I'll react in detail after consulting my legal advisors," ANI further quoted Chavan as saying.
Other Congress leaders reacted in a similar way, alleging that BJP was seeking revenge and there were no new grounds to prosecute Chavan.
"The state government has given permission...It's worrisome because this it's not constitutionally correct and we will challenge it in court," Congress leader Sachin Sawant told CNN-IBN.
"What is the new ground (for prosecuting Chavan) that has been found now which wasn't found then? Congress fully backs Ashok Chavan," Congress Tom Vadakkan said.
On the other hand, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar said this was a judicial process and the Maharashtra government had nothing to do with it. "Governor is an independent authority... BJP has nothing to do with it," Shelar said.
With inputs from PTI