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Adarsh: HC asks CBI to decide on FIR in 2 weeks

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday pulled up CBI for the "delay" in filing a FIR in Adarsh Housing scam and ordered it to take a final decision within two weeks even as Maharashtra Government opposed a probe by the central agency.

The court also directed issuing of summons to CBI`s regional Joint Director to appear before it when the court hears the case again after two weeks.

During hearing of a petition in the Adarsh case, a division bench of Justices B H Marlapalle and U D Salvi asked, "It has been more than two months since CBI has been conducting a preliminary inquiry into the case. Why have you (CBI) not registered FIR as yet?"

"We fail to understand why there is a delay in lodging of FIR. Media reports have virtually carried CBI`s draft FIR and revealed all the accused`s names," Justice Marlapalle said.

The state Home department in its affidavit submitted to the court said that in the Adarsh case, the issues which arise fall within the domain of the state government and the Central Government has "little or no concern" with the same.

"Handing over such investigation to another agency or the CBI is an extreme measure and rarely resorted to," it said, adding there is no jurisdictional basis for handing over the case to CBI.

The petition was filed by activist Simpreet Singh which said since both CBI and the state Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) were involved in the probe, it may create issues of jurisdiction "which might hamper the probe".

According to the petition, with three former chief ministers allegedly involved in the scam, the ACB may be under pressure not to effectively probe the case and hence the entire investigation should be handed over to CBI.

Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambata, appearing for CBI, sought four weeks to finish the probe, saying, "It is a sensitive case involving big names. The agency does not want to take any hasty decision."

The court however refused to grant more than two weeks to the agency and ordered the regional Joint Director of CBI to appear before it.

The Home Department`s affidavit said "in the Adarsh case, the issues which arise falls within the domain of the state government. The Central Government has little or no concern with the same. There is, therefore, no jurisdictional basis for handing over the investigations to the CBI."

"The assumption that Anti Corruption Branch being a state agency is not suitable for or will have difficulty in enquiry into allegation or issues in view of the alleged involvement of officials of the central government is totally misconceived.

"The petitioner completely overlooks the fact that it is the nature of the offence and not the identity of the offender which is paramount," it said, adding there is no merit in the petitioner`s contention casting doubts about ACB`s ability to probe the case.

The affidavit also stated that the government has already formed a joint committee including a retired judge and an ex-bureaucrat to probe into the scam.

"It would be appropriate for the state to wait for the findings of the joint commission before filing criminal cases against persons," the affidavit filed by Ruprao Deshmukh, joint secretary, Home department, contended.

"There is no merit in the petitioner`s allegation that there is an attempt to protect those persons involved in the scam…state government is extremely serious," it said.

CBI had registered a Preliminary Enquiry on November 15 last after Defence Minister A K Antony announced a CBI probe into the scam, which involves some senior Defence and state government officials and politicians.

Two former army chiefs Gen Deepak Kapoor and Gen N C Vij and ex-navy chief Admiral Madhavendra Singh owned flats in the scam-hit society building in upscale Colaba.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had on January 16 ordered demolition of the building within three months holding it as "unauthorised" and built in violation of the spirit of coastal regulations.

Apart from violating the CRZ norms, the society is alleged to have got various clearances from authorities through dubious means. The building that was to house families of war heroes and Kargil widows was originally meant to be a six-storey structure but later extended to 31 floors.

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