Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday posted for final hearing on September 29 an appeal filed by the CBI challenging a trial court's order rejecting its plea to drop the name of former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan from the list of accused in Adarsh scam case.
Justice M L Tahilyani heard arguments briefly and ordered that he would finally hear the matter next Monday and pass an order on the same day itself after hearing Chavan and an intervenor.
A Congress stalwart from Marathwada region and one of its two MPs in the state, Chavan is also heading the Election Coordination Committee for Maharashtra Assembly elections scheduled on October 15.
In its interim order last month, the high court had stayed Chavan's prosecution until the CBI's appeal is decided.
The special CBI court, in January this year, had turned down CBI's plea to drop Chavan's name from the FIR after the then Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan refused sanction to prosecute him for want of evidence.
Chavan had stepped down from the post of chief minister after the Adarsh scam came to light in 2010. CBI had accused him of approving additional floor space index for Adarsh housing society in South Mumbai in return for flats for his relatives.
He was also charged with illegally approving, as state revenue minister, allotment of 40 per cent of flats to civilians though Adarsh Society was meant only for Kargil war widows and defence personnel.
The high court today allowed former journalist Ketan Tirodkar, who had filed an application seeking to vacate the stay on prosecution of Chavan, to intervene in the matter.
Tirodkar had sought the court's direction to CBI to register offences in the Adarsh scam and transfer investigation of missing files case, an offshoot of the scam, from Marine Drive police to CBI as it was a connected offence.
The court had then directed CBI to amend its FIR by invoking Benami Properties Transaction Act.
In the application pleading for vacating the stay on Chavan's prosecution, Tirodkar contended that CBI's revision application should be dismissed as the agency cannot challenge an interlocutory order of the trial court, which had rejected its application to strike out Chavan's name as an accused.
His application further argued that no court can grant a stay for any reason whatsoever upon the proceedings under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Tirodkar had alleged that CBI had "deliberately" sent the proposal for sanction u/s 197 of CrPc to the Governor so as to give room for him (governor) to "favour" the accused (Chavan) who was arraigned by honest officers in the investigating agency.
His application further alleged that Chavan had met the Governor when the CBI's proposal for sanction was pending before the latter which was not proper.
The judge today observed that the issue which has to be decided by the high court is whether section 169 of Cr.PC, which deals with the release of the accused when there is deficient evidence, is applicable or not in this case.
CBI pleaded that since the governor had refused to grant sanction, it had no material to prosecute Chavan and hence its application under section 169 of Cr.Pc to discharge Chavan should be allowed.
Chavan's lawyer Amit Desai also supported CBI's plea.