Mumbai: A day after a CBI court acquitted former telecom minister A. Raja and DMK leader Kanimozhi of corruption and money laundering charges in the 2G scam, the Bombay High Court gave relief to former Maharashtra chief minister and Congress MP Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh society scam. The two court orders have come as big blow to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had highlighted both scams during its 2014 election campaign.
The court set aside a sanction given by Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao to prosecute him in February 2016. It pointed out that in the absence of fresh material, the governor had no jurisdiction to review the order of the erstwhile governor. However, Mr Chavan can still be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act. In January 2014, the trial court had also rejected the CBI application saying there was no sanction to prosecute him.
Guv had refused sanction in 2013
A division bench comprising Justice Ranjit More and Justice Sadhana Jadhav was hearing a petition by Ashok Chavan, who challenged the Governor’s sanction to prosecute him.
His counsel, Amit Desai argued that the governor’s sanction is arbitrary and politically motivated. He further argued that in 2013, the then governor Sankarnarayanan had refused to give sanction to prosecute Chavan under IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act as the CBI had insufficient proof.
On October 8, 2015, the CBI again approached new governor, Mr Rao and put forth the order of the J.A. Patil Commission and that of the single bench in which the court had refused to delete Chavan’s name from the list of the accused as fresh evidence. On the basis of that, Governor Rao had revised the earlier refusal and gave his sanction.
The court had refused Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh’s contention that Governor Rao’s sanction can be challenged, but at the trial stage. The court said, “It would amount to abuse of process of law”.
The material which is required to be considered is not limited to the evidence collected by the investigating agency during the course of investigation,” said Justice Ranjit More.
July 4, 2012: CBI files first chargesheet naming Chavan as an accused.
Dec. 17, 2013: Governor Shankarnarayanan refuses to issue sanction to prosecute Chavan on the ground of “not enough evidence”
Jan. 15, 2014: CBI moves trial court to remove Chavan’s name as accused.
Jan. 18: Trial court rejects the application on the ground that though there was no sanction to prosecute him under the IPC, Chavan can still be prosecuted under Prevention of Corruption act.
Nov. 4, 2016: Governor gives nod to the CBI to prosecute Chavan.
Dec. 22, 2017: HC sets aside governor’s sanction to prosecute Chavan.