The Bombay High Court on Tuesday reprimanded the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for failing to register a First Information Report (FIR) in the Adarsh housing society scam. The court directed the CBI to conclude the preliminary enquiry and decide on filing an FIR in two weeks.
The court also issued summons to the regional Joint Director of CBI ordering him to appear before it during the next hearing coming up two weeks later.
The CBI has been conducting preliminary enquiry in the matter since November, 2010 based on the Defence Ministry's complaint.
The court's direction comes in the wake of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Ketan Tirodkar requesting the court to order the CBI to file an FIR. The court took on board two petitions on Tuesday.
One was filed by Mr. Tirodkar and the other by Simpreet Singh demanding that the entire Adarsh housing society scam probe be handed over to the CBI. The State government submitted an affidavit denying the need to do so and requested the court to dismiss the petition.
“It has been more than two months since the CBI has been conducting preliminary inquiry into the matter. Why have you not registered the FIR yet?” the Division Bench of Justices B.H. Marlapalle and U.D. Salve asked the CBI.
Additional Solicitor-General Darius Khambatta, representing the CBI, said the inquiry was on. He asked for four weeks to decide on filing an FIR. “It is a sensitive case involving big names. The agency does not want to take any hasty decision,” Mr. Khambatta said.
Refusing the request, the court ordered the agency to decide in two weeks. If the CBI fails to file an FIR by then, it will have to tell the court the reasons for not doing so.
The court asked the CBI what held it back from filing the FIR, when the media was extensively reporting on the scam and talking about the persons involved.
“Where is the Investigating Officer?” Justice Marlapalle asked Mr. Khambatta. When the court was told that he could not be present for the proceedings, the judge asked how could an IO exist if an FIR had not been filed.
“According to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, the post of an IO doesn't come into existence if an FIR is not registered,” Mr. Tirodkar, one of the petitioners, told The Hindu.
The Maharashtra government filed an affidavit in the court responding to the petition filed by Mr. Singh of the National Alliance of People's Movement. It said there was no need to transfer the entire Adarsh probe to a central agency as “the issues which arise [in the Adarsh matter] fall substantially within the domain of the State.”
The affidavit filed by Ruparao Deshmukh, State Joint Secretary, Home Department, also requested the court to dismiss Mr. Singh's petition.
Mr. Singh had filed the petition requesting the High Court to interpret the provisions of the CBI Manual and decide the jurisdiction of the CBI and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). He said that there was ambiguity in the jurisdiction.
He had requested that an FIR be filed immediately. The court will now hear the matter on February 1.