Adarsh: CBI quizzes Shinde

In its first significant action since January, when the CBI began investigations into the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam, the agency on Sunday questioned Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde at his residence in New Delhi. A team of five members had flown into the Capital on Saturday evening for the questioning.

Shinde was the chief minister from January 2003 to October 2004 when most of the clearances to the society were given. When contacted, Shinde said, "I do not wish to speak on this issue, they did come to record my statement. To speak beyond that would not be appropriate while the investigation is still on."

"The questioning went on for five hours. The CBI has been looking into specific allegations against Shinde for clearing files and sanctioning permission pertaining to the society," said one of the officers in the team. The team is also likely to question Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in the next few days.

Neither Shinde nor Deshmukh are among the 14 persons listed as accused in the FIR. In its last two progress reports submitted to the Bombay High Court in May and June, the agency had claimed that there is "no role of culpability" that could be attributed to either Shinde or Deshmukh. However, the reports said the two could not be given a clean chit as yet.

The CBI has so far questioned a few bureaucrats and Army officers whose names appear in the list of accused. The statements of a few more witnesses including Naval officers and bureaucrats have already been recorded by the team.

Shinde, in an affidavit filed before the judicial panel in May, had vehemently denied all allegations of quid pro quo levelled against him. "Shinde maintains that no irregularities were brought to his notice during his stint as the chief minister," said an officer of the team.

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