The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was asked by the Bombay high Court on Wednesday about what it had done on allegations against two former Maharashtra chief ministers – Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde – in connection with the Adarsh society scam.
A division bench comprising justice Ranjana Desai and justice RG Ketkar directed the CBI to submit a report of progress in investigation specifically mentioning what steps had been taken regarding paragraph 5.6 of a public interest litigation filed by Simpreet Singh.
The judges refrained from taking the names of three former Maharashtra chief ministers mentioned in the paragraph – Deshmukh, Shinde and Ashok Chavan, who is already an accused in the case.
Singh has alleged that Deshmukh and Shinde, currently cabinet ministers at the Centre, have also played major roles in clearing files related to Adarsh during their tenure as chief ministers.
Singh’s counsel Ashish Mehta complained that the CBI investigation had purportedly been slowed down against certain persons. Additional solicitor general Darius Khambata replied saying the investigation was being conducted on a war footing and the agency could not go after certain big names.
Claiming that the CBI had undertaken a comprehensive investigation, Khambata assured the court that every aspect of the matter would be probed and they were more concerned about filing a sustainable charge sheet. He informed the court that the CBI had so far recorded statements of nearly 20 witnesses in the case.
Replying to a court query, he said Adarsh-related documents that had gone missing from Mantralaya haven’t been found yet. Meanwhile, the court also started a final hearing in a petition filed by the society challenging the January 16 order of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) ordering the demolition of the 31-storey structure in Cuffe Parade.
Arguing the controversial society’s case, Mukul Rohatgi said Adarsh had obtained all permissions. “The building was not constructed overnight flouting all norms,” the senior advocate said, adding. “The construction work started in 2009 in full public view and was completed last year. There was nothing that could entail issuance of an order for its demolition.” His arguments will continue on Thursday.