New Delhi: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Ashok Chavan has got a big relief from the Bombay High Court in the Aadarsh Housing Society case when the court set aside sanction given by Maharashtra Governor C Vidhyasagar Rao to prosecute him.
Chavan, the incumbent Maharashtra Congress Chief, was the CM when scam took place. As per constitutional provisions, his prosecution requires sanction from the state governor. Chavan was forced to resign as CM after the Adarsh scam surfaced.
This is the second big relief for the Congress party this week after a special court in Delhi exonerated all accused in the 2G case.
Post the verdict, the former chief minister said the court order reaffirms his faith in the judiciary.
"The HC order reaffirms my faith in the judiciary. I am satisfied. The state governor had given the sanction to prosecute me overruling the decision of his predecessor. With today's court decision, the governor's office has been saved from setting a new precedent," Chavan told reporters.
He said he had always maintained that the case against him was "politically motivated."
Chavan said the court order came because the allegations against him were "baseless and without any proof".
"I suffered personal damage in the last seven years because of the charges against me. I had to quit as the chief minister. But, I am involved in my party work. I am thankful to the people in my constituency for standing by me," Chavan said.
He also said the BJP should not indulge in the politics of vendetta at a personal level.
To a question on whether he would be the chief ministerial face of the Congress in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls, Chavan said any decision in this regard would be taken by the party.
Chavan is the Maratha face of the Congress in state. He was one of the two leaders who survived NDA wave in 2014 to win from Latur.
Chavan could also ensure victory for close Rahul Gandhi aide Rajiv Satav from the adjoining Satara in the same elections.
Chavan had alleged in the Bombay High Court in September this year that the Maharashtra governor’s 2016 decision was "politically motivated and biased".
In February last year, Governor Vidyasagar Rao had granted sanction to the CBI to prosecute Chavan for offences under IPC sections 120 (b)(criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai was meant for the families of Kargil heroes. But army officers, politicians and bureaucrats were allegedly allotted flats in violation of the rules.
Seen as a symbol of corruption, the Adarsh scam had kicked up a huge political storm after it surfaced in 2010, leading to the resignation of Ashok Chavan.
The Bombay high court, in an order last year, blamed members of the housing society, who it said happened to be close relatives of highly-placed bureaucrats or related to politicians or ministers, for conspiring with them to grab a plot.
Then defence minister A K Antony had on December 9, 2010, ordered a CBI probe to fix responsibility among armed forces and defence estates officers in the scam.
The probe agency was also asked to look into commitments made for allotment of flats in the society for Kargil widows and martyrs families.
(With PTI inputs)