CBI clears Shinde in Mumbai's Adarsh society scam

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has given a clean chit for home minister Sushilkumar Shinde in Mumbai's Adarsh Housing Society scam.

The investigating agency informed the Bombay High Court that petitioner Pravin Wategaonkar's plea to make Shinde one of the accused in the case doesn't stand, as there is no evidence to suggest that Shinde, during his tenure as chief minister of Maharashtra, abused his position as a public servant.

The CBI submitted an affidavit to this effect in reply to an application submitted by social activist Wategaonkar pleading that Shinde be included as an accused in the case, as he allegedly owns benami flats in the plush 31-storey Adarsh Housing Society in south Mumbai, allegedly constructed flouting all building norms.

"The CBI does not feel it legally necessary to name Sushilkumar Shinde as an accused person in the ongoing investigation being carried out by it," the affidavit states.

According to the CBI, the petitioner has relied on statements made by Kanhaiyalal Gidwani and Major N W Khankhoje to a commission probing the Adarsh Housing Society scam. Both Gidwani and Major Khankhoje are no longer alive.

Former member of the legislative council Gidwani had deposed before the Adarsh commission probing the issue that Shinde had asked for inclusion of Khankhoje as member.

"Khankhoje's membership may have been pursued by K L Gidwani but it cannot be confirmed as Gidwani has passed away. The CBI chargesheet states that civilian members in the society were included at the instance of Gidwani," the affidavit reads.

"Investigation conducted by CBI does not reveal any family relationship between Khankhoje and Shinde. There is nothing on record to substantiate deposition made by Gidwani to the commission that Khankhoje was included by Sushilkumar Shinde," the affidavit filed by the CBI adds.

"There is no evidence coming to light during investigation to suggest that Shinde abused his position as public servant for the benefit of someone from Khankhoje family in connivance with the office bearers of Adarsh," the affidavit states.

A division bench of Justices P V Hardas and P N Deshmukh adjourned hearing in the case to 26 September.

Shinde was Maharashtra chief minister from 2001 to 2003 when he cleared files related to Adarsh Housing Society.

Adarsh Housing Society flats were meant for families of Kargil War martyrs. Subsequently, not only was the height of the building greatly increased, but several flats in the society were allotted to bureaucrats, senior defence personnel and even politicians.