After a wrap on its knuckles from the Bombay High Court for lackadaisical approach in probing the multi-crore Adarsh housing scam, the CBI today arrested four accused including a retired Army Brigadier.
CBI officials swooped down at the residence of R C Thakur, a retired defence estates officer, and Brigadier(retired) M M Wanchoo and took them to its office.
Later, the duo, along with P V Deshmukh, a former Deputy Secretary in the Urban Department, were taken to a hospital for medical check up, a formality before effecting an arrest.
The fourth accused Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, a former Congress MLC, has also been placed under arrest in the case. He is already in jail in connection with another case where an Income Tax consultant was allegedly bribed to dilute charges in the case. All the four are among 14 people named in the FIR registered by the CBI in January last year.
The action of the CBI comes barely two days ahead of another hearing before the Bombay High Court, which in its last hearing, had hit out at the CBI for its failure to act against the high and the mighty.
These are the first arrests by the CBI ever since it registered a case in the multi-crore Adarsh housing scam in which former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has also been named as an accused.
A division bench of the high court comprising justices P B Majmudar and R D Dhanuka had questioned the CBI for delaying the arrests in the case.
"Why have you (the CBI) not arrested any of the accused yet? Are you feeling shy or are you just protecting the accused? If prima facie case is made out against anyone, then action should be taken irrespective of who that person is. Delay in such cases can be dangerous," the bench had observed during its March 12 hearing.
After perusing through the progress report submitted by the CBI, the court had said when the agency has found sufficient material against the accused persons, then why no action in the form of arrest was being taken.
"Take action without fear or favour. We agree that some of the accused persons are high ranking politicians but by initiating action, the CBI should send out a message that any wrongdoer irrespective of who he is will be punished," the bench had said and termed as unfortunate that the CBI had failed to initiate action even after having the evidence.
"Filing of the charge sheet should not stop you (the CBI) from arresting the accused. In several cases, the CBI arrests the accused first and then files charge sheet. Why are you making an exception in this case?" Justice Majmudar had questioned.
After being left red-faced during the court hearing, a CBI team led by its Joint Director Rishi Raj Singh had rushed to the national capital to discuss the case with the agency Director A P Singh.
After the meeting, it was decided that they would proceed and arrest some of the accused ahead of the next hearing.
The CBI has also sought sanction to prosecute Jairaj Pathak and Pradeep Vyas, both IAS officers, who are allegedly involved in the case.
According to CBI, Thakur and Wanchoo conspired with members of defence services, officials of Maharashtra government and others with the intention to illegally get the land allotted in favor of Adarsh society.
"They were public servants who abused their official position, manipulated and fabricated the records in order to get the land allotted to Adarsh in an illegal manner. The accused (Thakur and Wanchoo) also got various clearances from municipal authorities and state government illegally," CBI said in its FIR.
P V Deshmukh while working as deputy secretary in the Urban Development Department of the state government is accused to have conspired with Thakur.
"Deshmukh fraudulently communicated to the municipal corporation that a No Objection Certificate was granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest when there was no such NOC," the agency alleged.
Former Congress MLC Gidwani allegedly used his political influence with public servants in the government and offered them flats in the plush society in return of favors towards the project, it said.
All the four accused would be produced before a special CBI court tomorrow.