The Enforcement Directorate has filed a money laundering case against the former Maharashtra Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, and others in connection with the Adarsh housing society scam.
Drawing upon the Central Bureau of Investigation's FIR, the ED registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) on March 5 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. A copy of the ECIR was shown to the Division Bench of Justices S.A. Bobade and Mridula Bhatkar on Monday.
“It appears that the aforesaid acts of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery for the purpose of cheating, using of forged documents as genuine and abuse of official position by the said public servants…resulted in obtaining for themselves and for their relatives, property rights over flats at a very low cost compared to the market value…The acts appear to prima facie constitute an offence under Section 3 of the PMLA,” says the ECIR.
The agency is yet to ascertain “details of property initially suspected to be the proceeds of the crime.”
The court came down heavily on the ED for its handling of the case. On an earlier occasion too, the court flayed the ED for inaction. In the absence of an FIR, the court told ED: “On the basis of the material [you have given so far] you should be able to make a statement as to when you will register an FIR and when you will arrest the accused persons.”
Senior counsel R.V. Desai, appearing for the ED, said the agency would “take action” after the CBI completed its investigation. “We are waiting for the CBI to finish its probe. After that we will act within four weeks,” Mr. Desai told The Hindu later.
Meanwhile, the CBI told the court that it would complete its investigation by June 15.
The court asked both the investigating agencies to file a reply to an affidavit submitted by Pravin Wategaonkar seeking an investigation into the role of Union Ministers and former Maharashtra Chief Ministers, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde.
In a concurrent development, another Division Bench of Justices S.J. Vazifdar and A.R. Joshi admitted a petition filed by the Defence Ministry seeking demolition the Adarsh building.
Until the petition is disposed of, the interim order against granting any permission to the society will be applicable. The next hearing is slated for June 18.
Along with Mr. Chavan, R.C. Thakur, former sub-divisional officer, Defence Estate Office; Brig. (retired) M.M. Wanchu; former legislator K.L. Gidwani; Maj. Gen. (retd.) A.R. Kumar; Brig. (retd.) Romesh Chandra Sharma; Maj. Gen. (retd.) T.K. Kaul; Brig. (retd.) Tara Kant Sinha; Brig. P.K. Rampal; P.V. Deshmukh, former UDD deputy secretary in Urban Development Department; Ramanand Tiwari, former Principal Secretary, UDD; Subhash Lalla, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister; and Pradeep Vyas, former Collector; are the accused in ED's ECIR.
Meanwhile, a special CBI court on Monday extended till May 14 the judicial custody of the nine accused arrested in the Adarsh case.