The Bombay High Court today expressed satisfaction with the CBI probe into the Adarsh scam after perusing the progress report submitted by the agency, which claims to have unearthed ‘benami’ transactions by certain influential members of the Housing Society.
“We are positive that CBI is investigating in the right track. Some time should be given to the agency to conduct further probe including the missing files case which is also a serious offence,” a division bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and Rajesh Ketkar said.
The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions filed in connection with the scam, which included the Society’s petition seeking for CBI to de-freeze their bank accounts and social activist Simpreet Singh’s plea wanting the High Court to supervise the investigation.
While hearing the Society’s petition, the court asked CBI to consider if some concession can be given regarding the Rs 32 lakh dues of the Society in upmarket Colaba area here.
The Society has been directed to file an affidavit giving a list of their dues by March 25. According to the petition, the Society has incurred several expenses up to Rs 32 lakh which has not been payable as the accounts have been seized.
“Investigations have revealed that prime accused K L Gidwani has three flats in the Society under ‘Benami’ names.
All transactions made by the accused are from the Society’s accounts. More instances of ‘Benami’ transactions are evident and needs to be proved further,” Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambatta, appearing for CBI said.
CBI opposed the petition stating that the accounts were seized so as to verify ‘Benami’ transactions made by the accused through the Society’s account. If the Society account is allowed to operate, the proceeds of crime would be utilised to tamper with the evidence, the CBI affidavit states.
“At this stage we cannot ask CBI to de-freeze the whole account. We should give the agency a little free hand to investigate. We can however ask the CBI to consider giving some concession regarding the Society’s pending dues,” Justice Desai said.
In a related development, advocate Y P Singh, appearing for activist Simpreet Singh, told the court that the agency has not taken any steps against Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
“All small people have been named as accused in the case by CBI. The main players like Deshmukh and Shinde have been shielded,” Simpreet’s lawyer Y P Singh argued.
The court however said the CBI has not hesitated in naming former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in the FIR. “Give them (CBI) some time. They are investigating,” Justice Desai remarked.
CBI had on January 29 registered a case against 14 persons including former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and retired army officials, bureaucrats and State government officials on charges of criminal conspiracy, fraud and misuse of their official powers.
The agency had later on the direction of the High Court amended the FIR to include provisions of Benami Transaction Act.