The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was pulled up by the Bombay high court, on Tuesday, for delaying the registration of an FIR in the controversial Adarsh housing society in Cuffe Parade, and taking too much time for the preliminary inquiry.
“For the last three months, everybody has been talking about Adarsh, but we still don’t see the FIR. The CBI’s bona fides are now at stake,” observed the division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice UD Salvi.
The judges also reminded additional solicitor general Darius Khambatta that a fortnight ago, both the print and electronic media had virtually carried CBI’s draft FIR, and even declared the names of 15 persons to be named as accused.
“But, we are neither here nor there. Either register an FIR or clear all names. Why this inquiry?” said justice Marlapalle, while questioning the CBI’s preliminary inquiry.
The judges noted that conducting such an inquiry was contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). “This is contrary to the CrPC provisions. Register an FIR if the investigating officer has prima facie material,” the judge said.
Khambatta clarified that the preliminary inquiry was nearing completion. He said the CBI had obtained several documents and had also interviewed potential witnesses.
“This is a sensitive case involving old documents,” Khambatta said, explaining the delay in registering an FIR. He then sought four weeks’ time to complete the inquiry and take a final decision about registering the FIR.
The bench granted the CBI two weeks. The court was hearing two public interest litigations filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar and Simpreet Singh. Both have sought directions to hand over, to the CBI, the overall investigation in the alleged irregularities in land allotment and construction of the 31-storey Adarsh society.
The state government maintains that the subject is within its purview and there is no need to transfer the complete investigation to the CBI. Besides, the state has also said in an affidavit in reply to Singh’s PIL that the FIR could not be registered unless the report of the Inquiry Commission, appointed by it, submits its report. The affidavit filed by Ruprao Deshmukh, joint secretary (home department) states, “The administration is interested in action and not a mere show of action.”