Mumbai: In a major embarrassment to the opposition Congress, Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao here on Thursday accorded sanction to the CBI to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh Society scam.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through its letter dated October 8, 2015, sought the governor's sanction to prosecute Chavan under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code after "fresh incriminating material" was allegedly found against Chavan.
Reacting to the development, Chavan said: "The CBI's re-application to the governor to prosecute me is illegal. I will react in detail after consulting my legal advisors."
Chavan is currently a Lok Sabha member from Nanded in Maharashtra and the state Congress president.
Condemning the governor's sanction for Chavan's prosecution, senior party leader and MLC Sanjay Dutt termed it "BJP's vendetta politics to throttle the opposition expose on their misdoings".
The CBI included in its request for prosection sanction a report by a two-member Commission of Inquiry, comprising Justice J.A. Patil (retd) and former chief secretary P. Subramanian, besides Bombay High Court observations in a criminal revision application filed in 2014.
Accordingly, Rao granted the sanction to prosecute the Congress leader under Section 197 of CrPC and Sections 120-B and 420 of the Indian Penal Code in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society case.
The Maharashtra cabinet, at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last week, recommended to the governor to accord the sanction.
In its report, the commission of inquiry had indicted four former chief ministers - Chavan, late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar-Patil, also revenue minister at the relevant time - besides several top bureaucrats and other officials for their role in the high-profile scam.
The commission was set up in January 2011. However, its report and recommendations were rejected by the then Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in December 2013.
Chavan, 57, served as the chief minister between December 2008 and November 2010 before he was replaced by Prithviraj Chavan following the scam. he is a son of former Congress strongman S.B. Chavan, a union minister and two-time chief minister of Maharashtra.
The scam revolved around the allotment of flats in a 31-storey building constructed on a plot of land in the upmarket Colaba area of south Mumbai.
On September 21, 1999, the Adarsh Society applied for land for constructing a building for war heroes and retired defence personnel. It was allotted the land reserved for a road on July 9, 2004.
After the posh building was constructed, only 37 of the total 102 society members were defence personnel, including three related to the Kargil war. The remaining included several top politicians and serving or retired bureaucrats or their kin.
Ever since the scam broke out, the controversial towering building is lying vacant with no power or water supply. Chavan resigned as chief minister after the Congress Party asked him to do so over corruption allegations.