A division bench of the Bombay high court on Tuesday recused itself from hearing a clutch of public interest litigations (PILs) and other cases pertaining to the Adarsh housing scam. The bench comprising justice Sharad Bobde and justice Rajesh Ketkar did not specify any reason for its decision.
The division bench recused itself after advocate Amit Desai pointed out that former chief minister Ashok Chavan had filed an application through law firm Federal and Rashmikant seeking quashing of an FIR registered by the CBI.
Now, according to the court procedure, the PILs, related intervention applications and the plea filed by Chavan will be referred to the chief justice, who will assign the matters to some other division bench.
On January 29, 2011, the CBI had registered an FIR and booked 13 persons for their purported role in the housing society scam under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code as well as the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The agency later added the name of former BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak to the FIR. On July 4, the CBI filed a charge sheet against 13 persons by dropping charges against two and adding two others to the list.
Among the persons named in the charge sheet are Ashok Chavan, ex-MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, serving bureaucrats Jairaj Phatak and Pradeep Vyas as also retired bureaucrats Ramanand Tiwari, PV Deshmukh and Subhash Lalla.
Chavan has challenged the registration of FIR and questioned the CBI’s jurisdiction to probe the case.
Chavan has argued that CBI’s probe compromises the authority of state agencies like the Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau which, he has claimed, initiated preliminary inquiry into the scam before the CBI registered an FIR against 14 persons, including him.