The Supreme Court directed the Centre on Friday to take possession of the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society building in Mumbai and secure and maintain it until appeals challenging a Bombay high court order for its demolition are decided.
“You will ensure there is no encroachment and no unauthorised person enters the premises,” a bench headed by justice J Chelameswar told solicitor general Ranjit Kumar.
Though there is no formal order staying the building’s demolition, the solicitor assured the court it will not be pulled down. “There is no question of demolishing it,” he told the court.
The top court gave the Centre time till August 5 to take the possession.
“We will not permit you to deal with the land anymore,” the bench told the housing society.
But it permitted the society’s office bearers to collect their documents lying in the office. For this, the court said, Bombay HC registrar will depute a senior officer to prepare an inventory. It will be done in the presence of a government officer and the society’s office bearers. The registrar nominee will oversee the handing over of the possession.
On April 30, the Bombay HC ordered the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change to demolish the controversial building in Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade area at the cost of the housing society. The court also gave 12 weeks’ time to the society to challenge its order before the SC.
The HC order directed the Maharashtra government to initiate criminal and civil proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats involved in the case for violation of rules.
By its verdict, the HC on April 29 upheld the ministry of environment’s (MoEF) 2011 order holding the Adarsh Society guilty of a violation of environmental laws, including the Coastal Regulation Zone rules.
The ministry held the building was in violation of the environmental rules and ordered the demolition of the Adarsh apartment block.
The society has been mired in controversy after reports first emerged in 2010 that politicians, bureaucrats and ministers promoted the society that was originally earmarked for a housing project meant for the relatives of defence personnel who died in the Kargil conflict.
The then Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan subsequently quit after reports pointed to the involvement of his family members who were allotted flats in the society.
A dispute over who owns the land is pending between the state government and Centre before a trial court in Mumbai. A two-member commission appointed by the state government gave a finding in April 2013 stating the land belonged to the Maharashtra government and not the ministry of defence.