State bureaucrats under the microscope in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam face suspension.
The Colaba society has been accused of violating environmental norms and getting land on the promise that houses would be built for war veterans and widows. However, most of the flats went to politicians, bureaucrats and military commanders, many of them in a position to influence clearances.
The state government has asked the bureaucrats for details of their handling of Adarsh files and the flats they got. The officers are being sent notices under the All India Service Rules, seeking information whether they got flats in exchange for issuing clearances. They are also being asked about their sources of income.
“We have asked each officer whether he or she cleared the Adarsh file at any stage, whether the flats allotted to them or their relatives were in return for clearing the file and how they got the flats at prices far lower than the market rates,” said a top government official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“We asked how they got the money to buy flats and whether they sought government permission before buying them,” the official said. “The notices will be issued today [Friday] or tomorrow. The officers will be given a week’s time to respond.”
The notice is part of the action planned by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan against bureaucrats involved in the scam. The officers’ responses will form the basis for action to be taken against them.
“Serving officers who appear to have misused their positions will be suspended pending an inquiry,” the official said.
Among the serving officers who got flats for themselves or their relatives are former Mumbai civic chief Jairaj Phatak, tribal development secretary and former Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport managing director Uttam Khobragade, former Mumbai collector IA Kundan, and Indian Administrative Service officer and wife of a former Mumbai collector Seema Vyas.
Kundan and Vyas were allotted flats in their names. Phatak’s son Kanishka and Khobragade’s daughter Devyani were also allotted flats.
“While the state can suspend serving bureaucrats, termination of services requires Central sanction,” the official said.
In the case of retired bureaucrats — former urban development secretary Ramanand Tiwari, former secretaries to the chief minister Subhash Lalla and CS Sangitrao and former chief secretary DK Sankaran — the government can stop their pensions and other benefits.
Tiwari is currently state information commissioner, while Lalla is a member of the state Human Rights Commission. Both of them could be asked to resign if found to be involved in the scam.
All serving and retired officers face action if a probe planned by Chavan finds them guilty. Sources said he is expected to announce a probe — probably by a retired high court judge — in the Legislature during the debate on Adarsh. The debate is expected early next week, though the Opposition may raise the issue on Saturday.
“The government is taking all the steps required,” Chief Secretary JP Dange said.