Nearly two months after he was chargesheeted in the Adarsh housing society scam, former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan on Monday moved the Bombay high court seeking quashing of the cheating and corruption case registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Chavan and 12 others were chargesheeted by the CBI on July 4 with the Congress leader being accused of granting some approvals to the housing society in upscale Colaba as quid-pro-quo for allotment of three flats to his kin.
In his petition filed under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the former chief minister has reiterated the stand taken by the Maharashtra government that the CBI does not have jurisdiction to probe the matter as neither the state government not the high court had handed over the case to the premier investigating agency.
"CBI in the present case has transgressed into the exclusive domain of the state and the state police," the petition states.
Seeking quashing and setting aside the case, Chavan has said he has been wrongly named in the FIR and that there was a political conspiracy to keep him out of public affairs.
He has also prayed the court to restrain the CBI from initiating any action against him.Despite being chargesheeted, Chavan has not been arrested in the case in which most accused had been arrested and released on bail.
"The allegation that the applicant (Chavan) had asked for civilians to be included in Adarsh society has been made with an ulterior motive. The society had decided to induct civilians as members in 1999 itself," the petition claims.
It further states that allotment of land to the society and approval of membership occurred a year after Chavan ceased to be state's revenue minister. Chavan's mother-in-law Bhagvati Sharma, sister-in-law Seema Sharma and father-in-law's brother Madanlal Sharma have flats in the society.
According to CBI, Chavan misused his official position twice - first as revenue minister and then as chief minister -- to show undue favours to the society.
In its chargesheet, the CBI claimed that Chavan, during his tenure as revenue minister in 2000, met Adarsh society's secretary R C Thakur and promoter M M Wanchoo along with former Congress Member of Legislative Council Kanhaiyalal Gidwani.
"Soon after the meeting Chavan made a proposal to include 40 per cent civilians as members of the society, which is evident through a letter submitted by the minister to the
society," the charge sheet says, adding that he had sought inclusion of civilian members for obtaining favours for his close relatives.
"Chavan as chief minister in 2009 proposed that his mother-in-law Bhagvati Sharma and father-in-law's brother Madanlal Sharma be made members. Madanlal was not entitled to be allotted a flat as he already owned a flat in Andheri," the chargesheet said. Under the society's by-laws, only those who did not own an accommodation in the city were eligible for its membership.
According to CBI, Chavan had received Rs 70 lakh from his close associate and builder Jayant Shah's son Malav Shah for making payments towards the flats for his relatives in the 31-storey building in south Mumbai. He, however, returned the money soon after the scam surfaced.
The accused including senior retired army officials and bureaucrats have been charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct under sections 120(B) and 420 of Indian Penal Code and section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI has examined 150 witnesses and attached as many as 161 documents from various departments as evidence.