Poking holes into CBI's evidence against former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in Adarsh Scam, Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan has said the agency failed to produce evidence which could disclose "even a grain of truth".
On the allegation that inclusion of civilians in the Adarsh Society, meant for Kargil widows and defence personnel, was proposed by Chavan, the Governor said the agency proceeded on a "sheer assumption and conjecture".
"The correspondence collected by CBI itself discloses that the main accused have been engaged in correspondence with various authorities for allotment of land much prior to June 2, 2000," he said in an order provided to former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi under RTI Act
CBI has alleged that Chavan as Revenue Minister became part of criminal conspiracy with main accused on June 2, 2000 during a meeting where he "reportedly proposed" the inclusion of civilians upto a ratio of 40 per cent as members in the society, the order shows.
"Prior to the meeting of June 2, 2000 also it is clear that civilians were part of the proceeding of negotiating/liasoning and were also entertained by the society...It cannot be, therefore, said that it was Chavan who for the first time proposed the inclusion of civilians in the society," the Governor said.
Underlining the phrase used by CBI, Chavan "reportedly proposed" inclusion of civilians, to press its allegations, the Governor said, "In other words the CBI has not been able to collect/produce any evidence at all, leave aside the evidence that would prima-facie disclose even a grain of truth, in this regard. No prima facie case, therefore, exits for this allegation at all."
Based on the denial of sanction to prosecute Chavan, CBI had recently moved the Mumbai special court seeking to drop the name of the former Chief Minister in the scam case, although that proposal was rejected by the court.
On the issue of alleged quid pro quo in the form of allotment of flat to sister-in-law of Chavan, the Governor said, "taking triggering point of the quid pro quo as the meeting of June 2, 2000, it is clear that application made by his sister-in-law on June 18, 2004 was rejected and an affidavit had to be filed in 2008."
"Too much time has elapsed between the meeting of 2000 and the application of 2004 and the affidavit of 2008 and the grant of membership on November 10, 2008. I have not found any nexus in the documents produced before me to even prima facie appear that this grant of membership was gratification or a quid pro quo for whatever actions were taken by Mr Chavan," he said in the order.
The Governor said no document or oral evidence of any witness contains any evidence whatsoever to even prima facie show that there is a nexus of even so that the proposal of quid pro quo was the brain child of Chavan.
"It may also be noted that at the time of approval of membership, Chavan was not the revenue minister nor was he the Chief Minister," he said.
Sankaranarayanan said that CBI had sought his sanction only under Section 197 of CrPC and not under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
He clarified that denial of permission to prosecute did not pertain to charges which are sought to be levelled against Chavan under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
"Having considered the matter from all angles, the entire papers and documents, I do not find that even a prima facie case is made out and hence the request of the CBI for sanction to prosecute under Section 197 of the CrPC is liable to be rejected and, therefore, I am hereby constrained to refuse the same," he said.
Chavan, who resigned as Chief Minister of Maharashtra after the scam surfaced, was among 12 people charged by CBI in connection with the case.
The former Chief Minister had challenged inclusion of his name in the charge sheet, saying no sanction for prosecution was taken from the governor whereas CBI countered it by saying since he was a former minister at the time of being charge sheeted and there was no need for sanction.