Mumbai: Observing that it would first deal with the issue of whether or not CBI has jurisdiction to probe the Adarsh Housing society scam, the Bombay High Court Wednesday directed the society to file a reply to an application by Defence Ministry challenging the objection raised against CBI probe in the matter.
Maharashtra government and Adarsh society had last month filed affidavits in the high court stating that CBI has no jurisdiction to probe the matter as the land where the 31-storey building stands belongs to the state government.
"We will first deal with the jurisdiction issue," a division bench of Justices S A Bobade and Mridula Bhatkar said.
The state government in its affidavit said it had not consented for CBI probe in the matter.
"The judicial commission set up to probe the alleged scam has submitted that the land belongs to state government hence local police has jurisdiction to probe the matter," government had said in its affidavit.
The Defence Ministry today filed an application in the high court raising objection to the state government`s claim that CBI had no jurisdiction to probe the matter.
"Dispute over the ownership of the land is not yet over. The commission`s report is not binding on either the court or the government. The Ministry of Defence has not accepted the report. The report of the Commission is completely flawed, contrary to the evidence on record and is made on patently incorrect interpretation of law," the defence ministry said.
The defence affidavit termed Maharashtra government`s objection to CBI probe as "illegal and malafide".
The bench today directed Adarsh society to file its reply to defence ministry`s application by August 3.
The court was hearing a batch of public interest litigations filed by social activists Simpreet Singh and Pravin Wategaonkar seeking monitoring of the investigation by the high court.
The affidavit of Defence Ministry said, "The state government since last year has not taken any objection to CBI probe in the matter. The high court on several hearings since a year has rapped CBI for its slow probe and directed it to carry on investigations."
"The CBI has also filed reports before the court. The government on all these occasions did not raise objection," it said.
The Defence ministry further claimed that it has the biggest stake in the matter and has suffered huge loss as a result of the "fraudulent and illegal" transfer of the land by the state government.
At the last hearing, the Court had allowed the Ministry of Defence to intervene in the PILs and asked it to file its response to Maharashtra government`s stand that CBI cannot probe it.
Accordingly, the Ministry filed an affidavit today.
The Maharashtra government and Adarsh Society have contested the CBI`s jurisdiction to probe the alleged scam on the ground that neither the state nor the high court had handed over the investigation to the Central agency, as required under the law.
The PILs have sought monitoring of the probe by the high court and invoking provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the case.