The two-member panel set up to probe the alleged Adarsh housing society scam was on Friday told by former Union minister Suresh Prabhu, IAS officer Seema Vyas as well Omkar Tiwari, son of former urban development secretary Ramanand Tiwari, that they had not checked the status of the controversial plot before applying for membership.
While Seema Vyas deposed that her membership application form was filled by her husband Pradeep Vyas, the then collector of Mumbai, and that she took a loan from him to fund the purchase, Prabhu, who was the Union environmental minister representing the Shiv Sena at the time, said: “I did not verify the said clearances and I relied on the statements made to me by the society.”
Prabhu named Adarsh promoters Kanhaiyalal Gidwani and RC Thakur as the ones who gave him the information.
When asked whether she had checked with her husband since the state revenue department was also under him, Seema Vyas said: “I never had any doubt about the status of the land, and I had discussed the proposal not just with my husband but with many friends and well-wishers. None of them raised any doubt on the status of the land,” said Vyas.
Omkar Tiwari, whose father Ramanand Tiwari was arrested in the Adarsh case, said he had not spoken about the land’s status with his father, who was the principal secretary of urban development department (UDD) at the time of his application in May, 2005.
“The discussion with my father was on whether I should apply for the membership, and whether I was eligible,” he said, and added: “I knew the location of the land, and did not check with my father about its status.”
Seema Vyas, who is currently the Commissioner of Employees State Insurance Scheme (ESIS), said: “The contents in the application form are written by my husband. Similarly, the name of the place and the date are also in my husband’s handwriting.”
She also revealed the financial sources to fund her purchase, which include a loan from her husband. “I took a personal short-term interest-free loan of Rs14.1 lakh from my husband,” she said.
The Adarsh scam rocked the state government in late 2010 when a nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and army officials were alleged to have collided to grab apartments in the plush 31-storeyed building at Colaba.
The then chief minister, Ashok Chavan, was forced out of office when it came to light that his kin had secured membership in this society.