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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

Adarsh scam report tabled in Maharashtra assembly

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, December 20, 2013
First Published: 13:16 IST(20/12/2013) | Last Updated: 19:38 IST(20/12/2013)

A two-member judicial panel’s report, which pointed to involvement of politicians and bureaucrats in Adarsh housing scam and was rejected by the cabinet for exactly these reasons, was tabled in Maharashtra assembly on Friday.

The two-member judicial commission had in the report said the 31-storey tower in Colaba enjoyed political patronage of four former chief ministers of Congress—late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ashok Chavan, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar—and two NCP leaders Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope. 

It has further indicted Chavan, former Speaker of state assembly Babasaheb Kupekar and five others for quid pro quo while granting various permissions  to the society in exchange of flats in the society.

The commission has also taken very strong view of the `benami’ (shell) owners of 22 flats in Adarsh and has asked the government to probe the same.

These include nine flats financed by a company owned by Abhay Sancheti, brother of a BJP MP.

It said out of the 102 approved members of Adarsh, 25 were ineligible, including the one owned by the Indian diplomat currently in the eye of the storm, Devyani Khobragade.

The commission also indicted 12 bureaucrats including former secretary to chief minister Subhash Lalla, former urban development secretary Ramanand Tiwari and former chief secretary DK Sankaran for violation of service conduct rules.  

The Maharashtra government, however, rejected the findings in the final report of the commission saying it did not agree with the same.

It, however, accepted the first report of the commission tabled in the assembly in April, which concluded that the controversial plot of land under Adarsh belonged to the state government and not the ministry of defence.

It also said that the land in question or membership of Adarsh was not reserved for defence personnel or Kargil war heroes.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan tabled the report in the state legislature after his cabinet decided to reject the final report of the commission.

The Bharatiya Janata Party accused the government of shielding those who had a hand in the scam.

"The JPC buried the 2G scandal. The Maharashtra cabinet buries the Adarsh fraud. Can truth be ever buried?" tweeted leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.

Minutes after the report was tabled, the entire Opposition stormed into the well of the House, demanding a discussion on it, but speaker Dilip Walse Patil rejected their plea citing House rules.

Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse wanted to know why there was no talk about the commission’s interim report.

He also sought explanation from the government on newspaper reports that governor K Sankarnarayanan has denied permission to CBI to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who has been chargesheeted by the agency.

CBI is conducting a separate probe into the scam which came to light in 2010 when Chavan was the CM.

The report deals with 11 terms of reference largely revolving around the legality of the sanctions given to the 31-storey tower and the role of bureaucrats and politicians in this.

The Adarsh scam had grabbed national headlines after it came to light that politicians, bureaucrats and senior army officials colluded to corner flats in this Colaba tower, originally meant for army officers, war heroes and widows.

In 2010, then chief minister Ashok Chavan had to step down from the top job after it was revealed that his relatives owned three flats in this tower.

His predecessors late Vilasrao Deshmukh and Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde were also under scanner in this scam.

There are at least 12 senior bureaucrats who owned flats in the tower out of which five were named in the FIR by the CBI.

The final report of the two member judicial commission led by justice (retired) JA Patil has looked into the following 11 issues

• Whether reduction of the width and the changes of reservation of road to residential with regards to Prakash Pethe Marg, on which the society stands, was legal

• Whether the deletion of the reservation of plot reserved for BEST and its conversion to residential was in accordance with law

• Whether provisions of Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, 1966 and Development Control Rules formed under it have been contravened in utilization of FSI for staircase, lobby, raising the height of the building

• Whether any person, who was not eligible to become member of the society was approved to become member

• Whether any public servant had given permissions or clearances as quid pro quo to the society or which could attract provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

• Whether land allotted to society falls under CRZ and if so which category

• Whether requisite environmental clearances were obtained from the state and center

• Whether public servants or their relatives who have flats in the society have violated any provisions of law including All India service rules

• To fix responsibility on any person, servant and action to be taken against them

• To recommend steps to bring transparency, eliminate discretion in allotment of government land to housing societies

• To enquire into any other matter that is connected or incidental to this entire case.


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