Millennium Post

Quid pro quo games and scams

The Adarsh Housing Society scam has taken new turns and they are welcome turns. Among the 13 chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the name of former Maharastra chief minister Ashok Chavan features prominently. Chavan has been chargesheeted for playing the quid pro quo game by handing over prime land and getting in return flats for his relatives in the 31 storey premium apartment complex, one of the highlights of space starved South Mumbai’s reality boom.

The scam broke open through the politicain-builder nexus in India’s commercial capital and the chargesheet against the former chief minister who was then in office shows that the rot has gone to the top. The chargesheet has unequivocally stated that 'Ashok Chavan, while functioning as the revenue minster of government of Maharashtra during the year 2000, became a member of the criminal conspiracy with accused R C Thakur, Brig Madan Mohan Wanchu and Kanhaiyalal Gidwani in pursuance to the same, he proposed to include the civilians as members in the society with the ulterior motive to make his relatives as members in the society.' This is a sheer disgrace to the office of a chief minister. And penal action should be due to him if proved guilty. Chavan and 12 accused will be tried for offences registered under sections 120-b (conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using a forged document) of the IPC and under 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of the Corruption Act, 1988.

Chavan has of course pleaded innocence and accused his political rivals on implicating him. His response has been rather curious. He has tried to reason that previous occupiers of his office, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Shushil Kumar Shinde have also handled the files relating to Adarsh Society must be investigated too. Whether there is merit in his accusation is secondary. What is more crucial is to ask, does their involvement absolve Chavan of his misdeeds? Definitely not.

As of now, the case has proved that if given a free hand, the CBI can do wonders. It can, with no interference, implicate even the highest office bearers in a democracy, which any independent investigating agency should be empowered with. One can assume that some amount of political skulduggery has played a part because in India, unless politically motivated, it is rare instance that an well entrenched politician and high office bearer has not enjoyed the 'extra constitutional' impunity. But if that means, the guilty are identified and penalised, so be it.

But still one must be optimistic that the work done by the CBI for 17 months now will be taken to its logical legal conclusion and that under no circumstances should legal proceedings be hampered for political compulsions.
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