Mumbai: More than 14 months after registering an FIR in the Adarsh Housing Society scam, the CBI on Tuesday made the first arrests in the case. Former sub-divisional officer of Defence, RC Thakur, former senior bureaucrat, PV Deshmukh and retired Brigadier MM Wanchu were arrested for fraudulently securing clearances for Adarsh. Former MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani will also be arrested soon.
The CBI's action comes just days after the Bombay High Court minced no words while chiding it over the delay in making arrests in the case. The court said, "Why have you not arrested any of the accused yet? Are you feeling shy or are you just protecting the accused? In several cases, the CBI arrests the accused first and then files a chargesheet. Why are you making an exception in this case?"
Threatening to hand over the probe to a Special Investigation Team, the court also came down heavily on the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax Department.
The tower of deceit of Mumbai outraged the country and precipitated the resignation of former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan in November 2010, and placed in the dock more than a dozen senior bureaucrats, former heads of the Army and the Navy, and two other former chief ministers - Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Two years later, it is not just the multi-agency probe, but even the judicial commission's probe is moving at a snail's pace.
Set up in January 2011, the two-member commission was supposed to give a report in three months. And fourteen months on, it is likely to seek its fourth extension.
It has examined 39 witnesses, and 31 still remain to be questioned. The three former chief ministers are yet to depose.
Not only that, since it was set up, nearly Rs 4 crore has been spent on the commission itself. This includes the fees of senior advocates and salaries of the 24-member staff.
For the moment, these arrests seem to be a face-saving exercise. The big question is, when will the agency move in to arrest the accused number 13, former Maharashtra chief minister, Ashok Chavan?