Retired and serving bureaucrats, who have been asked to explain their alleged roles in the Adarsh society scam, are confident that they will not be indicted because they acted within the legal framework.
The state had earlier this month asked 17 retired and serving officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) to furnish details of how they handled the Adarsh files and about the flats allotted to them or their kin.
The notices were sent under the All India Service Rules seeking information whether the bureaucrats got flats in exchange for clearing files pertaining to the project. They were also asked to reveal their sources of income.
Every officer has replied to the notice.
The notice was part of the action planned by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan against the bureaucrats.
The 31-storeyed Adarsh housing society is under the scanner for allegedly violating environmental norms and giving politicians and bureaucrats flats in exchange for clearances.
Among the serving officers who have received the notice are former Mumbai civic chief Jairaj Phatak, tribal development secretary, Uttam Khobragade, former Mumbai collector I Z Kundan, and Seema Vyas, food and drugs commissioner and wife of former Mumbai collector, Pradip Vyas. Phatak’s son and Khobragade’s daughter are members of Adarsh.
All officers have denied that they got flats in exchange for granting clearances to Adarsh. They have said the clearances were legal.
Retired bureaucrats, who replied to the state’s notice, are urban development secretary, Ramanand Tiwari, former secretaries to chief minister, Subhash Lalla and CS Sangitrao, and former chief secretary, DK Sankaran. Lalla’s daughter and mother are members of Adarsh while Sangitrao’s son has a flat in the tower.
“As far as our incomes are concerned, everything is black and white. We submit [a statement of] our assets to the government regularly and most of us will be able to satisfy the query about where we got the money from,” said one of the bureaucrats requesting anonymity because he did not want to be quoted on a controversial issue.
The bureaucrats have said the government had itself approved their membership of the society. Phatak, Khobragade, Sangitrao, Lalla and Sankaran have said that their children were adults and earned enough to buy the property. They have provided the state government with information on home loans and the family’s contributions.
Sources in the government said any discrepancy in the officers’ statements could force the state government to recommend a serving bureaucrat’s suspension or stop the pension and other benefits of the retired lot.
Tiwari is now the state information commissioner and Lalla is a member of the State Human Rights Commission. Another bureaucrat dismissed the possibility of suspension.
“The law of the land supports us as well. Everything cannot be decided on the basis of perception alone. We’re open to any inquiry,” he said, also requesting anonymity because of the controversial nature of the issue.
The state is likely to submit the information sought from bureaucrats to the Bombay high court, which is hearing the Adarsh case.