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Criminal cases against the politicians should be disposed of expeditiously and in a time- bound manner, the Supreme Court said on Thursday and listed a high- profile case involving Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan in March. It listed the case of Chavan, an accused in the multi- crore rupees Adarsh Society scam case, in March for final disposal. The top court, however, said the trial court proceedings in the case will stand stayed till the disposal of the case in the apex court. "We have read in newspaper that criminal cases against politicians has been directed by the Supreme Court to be disposed of expeditiously. This court shall make the start and list this matter in the month of March for final disposal.
Lot of things we come to know nowadays from newspapers," a bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said. It listed the matter for further hearing on March 13. On December 14 last, the top court had directed that 12 special courts, to be set up to exclusively deal with cases involving lawmakers, should start functioning from March 1 this year and asked the Centre to urgently allocate Rs 7.80 crore proportionately to the respective states. At the outset, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chavan, said this was an appeal against the Bombay High Court order by which it had refused to delete his name from the list of accused in the case. To this, the bench asked Sibal "what is the case all about". Sibal said it was alleged by CBI that Chavan, during his tenure as Maharashtra revenue minister, had illegally approved allotment of 40 per cent of flats to civilians even though the society was originally meant for defence personnel. "Is this case related to Adarsh housing society case," the bench asked. The senior counsel replied in affirmative and said the high court had recently quashed the sanction accorded by Maharashtra Governor to CBI to prosecute Chavan in the case. Senior advocate Rana Mukherjee, appearing for CBI, said the agency would file an appeal against the high court order. Sibal said the proceedings were moving ahead in trial court, despite the matter pending in the apex court. The bench said those proceedings will be stayed till the final disposal of the case. Chavan, currently the president of Maharashtra unit of the Congress, had served as the chief minister between December 2008 and November 2010 before he was asked to step down over corruption charges in the Adarsh scam. The scam kicked up a huge political storm and was highlighted by the BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign. On December 22 last year, the high court had granted relief to the Congress leader by quashing the sanction accorded by Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao to the CBI to prosecute him. It had held that the sanction granted by the governor could not be "sustained" as it was not based on any fresh material produced by the CBI that could be considered as plausible evidence by courts during trial. During the UPA tenure in 2014, the CBI had sought deletion of Chavan's name from the list of accused in the case but the trial court had refused the probe agency's prayer, a decision which was later upheld by the high court. Chavan in 2015 moved apex court challenging the high court's order refusing to delete his name from the list of accused in the case.