Maharashtra governor allows prosecution of former CM Ashok Chavan in Adarsh case

The 2011 Adarsh housing scam is back to haunt former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, with governor C Vidyasagar Rao sanctioning the CBI's plea to allow prosecution of Chavan in the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society case.

The governor has granted permission to prosecute the former chief minister under section 197 of CrPC, for offences under sections 120-B (conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of IPC in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society case; reports quoted government officials as saying.

The governor had last month sought the advice of the council of ministers, which is reported to have advised granting the sanction for the prosecution.

Chavan reacted angrily to the Maharashtra government's move and said, ''It is a clear case of political vindictiveness by the BJP,'' adding, ''The decision to allow CBI to prosecute me in Adarsh case is illegal. I will challenge it in the Supreme Court. I am consulting legal experts.''

The development comes days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested former MP Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, in a money laundering case in Mumbai on Monday. The ED also conducted multiple searches in Mumbai in connection with its money laundering probe against former Maharashtra PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal and others.

CBI had approached the governor seeking sanction to prosecute Chavan in connection with the Adarsh Housing Society corruption case in late January, following "fresh evidence" against Chavan in the case.

In December 2013, the then governor K Sankaranarayan had refused CBI sanction to prosecute Chavan in the Adarsh housing scam, forcing closure of proceedings against the former chief minister.

Chavan, who had to resign as chief minister after the scam surfaced in 2010, was among the 12 persons who were charged by the agency in connection with the case.

According to the CBI, Chavan had suggested inclusion of civilian members in Adarsh Housing Society meant for war veterans and widows of defence personnel, in order to secure flats for his relatives.

CBI had first approached a trial court and later the high court seeking to drop Chavan's name as an accused, but both of them had refused.

The High Court too dismissed CBI's application last November observing that the governor had refused sanction for prosecution under charges of conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code but Chavan could still be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Chavan, as usual, responded stating that it was a politically motivated move. "This is clear political vendetta of the BJP government against me," Chavan said.

"CBI's re-application to the governor to prosecute me (in Adarsh scam) is illegal. I'll react in detail after consulting my legal advisors," ANI quoted Chavan as saying.

Other Congress leaders also attributed vendetta as the basis of the move to prosecute Chavan.