A legal opinion by additional solicitor general Darius Khambata given to the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) in the controversial Adarsh housing society case in March this year may spell trouble for the ministry.
In a letter dated March 11, 2011, addressed to the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh, Khambata said as as the society had challenged the MoEF's demolition order on several grounds, including 'breach of natural justice', the way to resolve all allegations was to grant a fresh hearing to the controversial society at Colaba and then pass an order.
The environment ministry had overruled Khambata's opinion and did not grant an additional hearing to the society.
"The Adarsh case, which I believe to be exceptional, has received personal attention from you (Ramesh) and so it is necessary for you to give a hearing in the matter and pass a fresh order replacing the order passed by Dr Bhushan dated 14.11.2011".
He had also pointed out, "If a fresh hearing is not given and a fresh order not passed by you, the present MoEF order is vulnerable and could be set aside".
Sources in the MoEF said that the letter would have no bearing on the ongoing case in the Bombay high court or before the two-member judicial commission, as the ministry had given written submissions before the court explaining why additional hearing was not given.
And, the affidavit of the ministry submitted before the Bombay high court in September refers to several Supreme Court decisions to prove that there was no breach of natural justice in the case. Khambata's letter was submitted along with other documents related to the Adarsh society before the commission of inquiry by the MoEF and has been made public.