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Governor’s order against Ashok Chavan can only be tested in trial court, CBI tells Bombay HC

Ex-chief minister has said order allowing CBI to prosecute him was ‘politically motivated, biased’

mumbai Updated: Sep 27, 2017 09:58 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,Bombay high court
Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan.(HT FILE)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that validity of the Governor’s February 2016 order granting sanction to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh housing society scam case can only be tested in the trial court.

The agency said this while the HC was hearing a petition filed by Chavan challenging the governor’s order. “The trial court will have to determine if there was enough material to review the earlier order, if the material was sufficient and relevant to grant sanction to prosecute or not,” said additional solicitor general Anil Singh.

In February 2016, Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao reviewed the December 2013 order of the then Governor K Shankarnarayanan and granted sanction to prosecute Chavan in the scam.

The Congress leader contended that the decision to review the December 2013 decision was politically motivated and biased and that there was no additional material warranting review of the decision. His counsel also argued that the 2016 order was motivated by change in political circumstances and not by any change in material aspects of the case.

READ:What made governor change mind on nod to try ex-CM Ashok Chavan in Adarsh scam: HC asks Maha

Singh, however, claimed that the report of Justice JA Patil Commission and certain observations made by the HC, while rejecting Chavan’s petition challenging the trial court’s decision to reject CBI’s plea seeking deletion of his name from the array of accused persons were “additional material”. Therefore, the Governor was justified in granting sanction to prosecute the former chief minister, he added.

“There is no question of mala fide exercise of power,” he said. While trying to justify the review of the 2013, he said it was passed when the inquiry commission report was not available for consideration, as it had not been accepted by then. Besides, he said, the December 2013 order did not get any “aid and advice from the state’s council of ministers”.

The division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Sadhana Jadhav, however, opined that the sanctioning authority may not take into consideration any material not included by the investigating agency in the charge sheet filed in the matter. “The difficulty is that the material collected by investigating machinery can be converted into evidence to be used during trial, but a report of an enquiry commission cannot be,” the bench said.

First Published: Sep 27, 2017 09:58 IST