Severely castigating CBI and ED for their handling of the Adarsh scam probe, the Bombay High Court today warned it may have to constitute a special team to investigate it if progress was tardy and summoned the director of the anti-money laundering agency on March 12.
The court was particularly unhappy with Enforcement Directorate for its failure to initiate a probe against members of the scam-tainted Adarsh Housing Society for money laundering, terming it as a “serious lapse“.
“It is unfortunate that ED has remained a mute spectator. There is a serious lapse on the agency’s part for not probing into money laundering offence. ED has not moved an inch. It reflects a sorry state of affairs,” a division bench of Justices P B Majmudar and R D Dhanuka observed.
“Why are you depending on the CBI? You are a separate agency and can conduct probe independently,” Justice Majmudar said when informed by ED lawyer that the agency had not begun its probe as CBI investigation was on.
“We are summoning the director as there has been no assistance from his department to the court,” Justice Majmudar said.
The bench also raised concerns over the tardy probe by CBI which has been investigating the case since January last year. “Why have you not finished the investigation till now? It is a matter where many big names are concerned. You (CBI) must be careful but at the same time you cannot let people question your credibility,” the court said.
Directing the CBI to file a status report on the probe on the next date of hearing, the court said, “If we are satisfied with the status report we will grant you more time to investigate. If it seems that you are inactive then a special team would have to be formed to probe the matter.”
The strong words from the bench came while hearing petitions filed by social activists Simpreet Singh and Pravin Wategaonkar seeking court’s monitoring of the probe and direction to ED to initiate inquiry into alleged money laundering by Adarsh society members.
Explaining the delay, CBI counsel Mandar Goswami told the court that as the agency was also looking into ‘benami’ transactions in the 104-member housing society the process was taking time because a huge quantity of documents had to be examined. “Several of the members have purchased flats in Adarsh through benami transactions,” he said.
Following this, the court directed CBI to name all such members in its status report to be filed on March 12.
The court also asked why the Maharashtra government was not cancelling the allotments to members who bought benami flats in the society.
Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol informed the court that the government would look into the matter when CBI submits a report to them.