M A I N   N E W S

M’rashtra Govt partially accepts inquiry report on Adarsh scam
Gives clean chit to Shinde, other politicians; to file charges against 12 bureaucrats
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 2
Reversing its earlier stand rejecting the inquiry commission report on the controversial Adarsh Housing Society scam, the Maharashtra Cabinet today decided to file charges against bureaucrats, even as it gave a clean chit to politicians named in the report.

"There will be no action against the four former chief ministers (Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar), Nationalist Congress Party leaders Rajesh Tope and Sunil Tatkare. There was no instance of criminality found against the politicians," Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters after the Cabinet meeting in Mumbai today.

Chavan, however, said the Central Bureau of Investigation that is probing the matter would look into violation of service rules by 12 bureaucrats indicted by the commission that probed the matter. "Twelve public servants acquired property in the Adarsh Society illegally," Chavan told reporters.

Explaining the flip-flop, Chavan said the matter was discussed afresh and different decisions were taken. "... we reviewed the entire report once again. In our meeting in Nagpur, we had rejected the Adarsh report on December 20. There were 13 terms of reference given to this action taken report. The first two terms of reference were looked at in April 2013 and the remaining 11 terms of reference and the findings of the committee which was appointed were given to us last month. We discussed the entire issue once again and it was decided that we take different decisions," Chavan said.

On the purpose behind setting up the probe panel into the Adarsh matter, Chavan said several issues needed to be looked into. "The first issue was whom did the land belong to. Did it belong to the state government or was it the defence ministry's land? We have referred this to the Central Government and mentioned that the land belonged to the state government."

Another issue, Chavan said, was whether or not the land was reserved for a particular purpose and if it was de-reserved for the purpose of constructing the building. The question of environmental regulations being flouted was also part of the probe, he added. "We had to decide what actions are to be taken against officials, politicians and public figures involved of the ministries of urban development and environment and natural resources," Chavan said.

The Chief Minister went on to say that an inquiry needed to be conducted into the scam. "There should be an inquiry done on all of these issues. The action taken report had also looked into whether the necessary permissions were taken. It suggested that necessary permissions from the Central environment ministry were not taken," Chavan said.

"The action taken report suggested that this was an unauthorised and irregular structure and should be demolished. The report suggested that the manner in which the land was acquired and the building was built was completely irregular and unauthorised. These irregularities need to be probed. Officials of the Ministry of Urban Development as well as the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources who had given these permissions needed to be examined. The action taken report also spoke of public servants who had taken unfair advantage of their position and bought properties in Adarsh as a result," the Chief Minister said. Chavan said the CBI was looking into the 22 benami flats in the society. "The CBI is also probing if this case has an element of quid pro quo," he said. The CM said 25 of the society's 102 members were not eligible for flats in the society.

The Maharashtra Government's decision to give a clean chit to politicians in the Adarsh scam has raised the hackles of the Opposition BJP. Vinod Tawde, Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, today demanded that a special session of the Legislature be called to discuss the findings of the commission set up to probe Adarsh. “The report was tabled in the Legislature during the winter session in Nagpur and is now the State Legislature’s property. Any decision on the report should be taken in the Legislature. I have demanded a special session to be convened for the purpose. The state Cabinet has no right to discuss the matter,” Tawde told reporters. 

From 6-storey structure to a skyscraper

The Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, originally meant to be a six-storey structure for Kargil War heroes and widows, was converted into a 31-storey building, violating several laws. Flats were allotted to bureaucrats, politicians’ relatives and defence officers in the building in the posh Colaba area. It later emerged these men had colluded to grab a defence plot and got it illegal environmental clearance. 

The U-turn

* The state Cabinet had on December 20 rejected the Adarsh probe report “in public interest”, but reviewed it following Rahul Gandhi's disapproval

* The report said Adarsh society enjoyed political patronage of four former CMs —Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan and Shivajirao Nilengekar Patil — but the CM says no criminality found against politicians

* The CBI is looking into the 22 benami flats in the society and any element of quid pro quo; 25 of the society's 102 members found ineligible for flats 





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