The Adarsh inquiry commission, on Wednesday, questioned deputy secretary for revenue and forest, JK Gharat about the membership granted to Seema Sharma, sister-in-law of former chief minister Ashok Chavan.
However, Gharat hesitated when asked to name the person who recommended Sharma’s name as member of the Adarsh Society.
Sharma’s application was initially rejected by erstwhile collector Pradeep Vyas as she did not fit the income criteria. However, her request was reassessed after the revenue department – under the then revenue minister Shivajirao Patil-Nilengekar – asked the collector to reconsider. However, Gharat couldn’t name the person from the revenue department under whose pressure this sole name was recommended.
Gharat told the commission that he had written a letter dated September 22, 2004 to the then collector of Mumbai. “Seema V Sharma, whose name was mentioned in para 3 of the recommendation letter, was willing to be a member of the Adarsh CHS. I cannot say, without seeing the relevant noting, as to why her name was specifically recommended,” Gharat said.
Sharma, an employee of LIC, was placed in the non-government employee category. As per eligibility norms listed in a government resolution dated July 9,1999, the monthly income limit for a 650-sq ft house for those not in government service was Rs12,500. Subsequently, in September 2004, Adarsh society referred her case to the revenue department, asking for a reconsideration. Gharat signed the letter sent to the collector.
On Thursday, Gharat will have to answer why Sharma’s name was included and whether the action was under direction of a higher authority. The commission will also call on joint secretary of revenue, Ramakant Asmar, to file an affidavit.