The Army, on Wednesday, said the state government did not have any correspondence with it about taking possession of the land on which the controversial Adarsh building stands.
“The land belongs to the Army and the state government never asked the defence ministry to hand over possession to it,” brigadier Deepak Saxena of the Army headquarters (Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Goa) told the inquiry commission set up to probe the alleged scam. The Army has been claiming ownership of the land on which Adarsh stands, but has not been able to present ownership documents in court, as the Military Land Register does not have them.
The Indian Army and the ministry of defence were also aware of the allotment of the Colaba land to Adarsh society. The Army, which has been claiming ownership of the land, however, chooses not to challenge the allotment.
The ministry of defence has relied on two ‘development plans’ showing that the Army was in possession of the land even before 1937. Saxena refuted Adarsh’s advocate Satish Maneshinde’s contention that the state government had transferred part of the land to the Army after taking over an Army property in Santacruz.
“The Army was always in possession of the land hence the question of the state government transferring part of the plot or seeking to hand over the land does not arise,” he said.
When shown a letter written by brigadier Parwinder Singh in April 2003 stating that the Army does not own Adarsh land, Saxena said, “Though Parwinder has no vested interest in Adarsh society, the letter must have been issued at the behest of senior officers.”
The Colaba housing society is being probed after defence and government officials were accused of misusing authority and position to get land and flats in Adarsh as well as for violation of construction and environmental norms.
The society has as its members military commanders, politicians, bureaucrats and their relatives. The commission was set up in January to probe the scam with reference to specific issues such as land ownership, reservation of the plot, town planning and coastal violations and role of public servants.