The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to demolish of scam-hit Adarsh Housing Society. However, on a plea made by the Adarsh Housing Society, a division bench stayed its order for 12 weeks to enable it to file an appeal in the Supreme Court, despite opposition by the Maharashtra government.
The demolition should be carried out at the expense of petitioners (Adarsh Society), ruled the court.
The court also asked the Centre and Maharashtra Government to consider initiating civil and criminal proceedings against bureaucrats, ministers and politicians, if not already done, for various offences in acquiring the plot on which Adarsh Society stands and also for misuse and abuse of powers.
However, it noted that the courts concerned shall decide the cases on the basis of evidence on record and in accordance with law, undeterred by the observations or findings made by the high court in this judgement.
The order was delivered in an open court by a bench of Justices R V More and R G Ketkar on a bunch of petitions filed by Adarsh Society challenging the demolition order of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and a title suit filed by the Defence Ministry claiming that it owned the land on which the 31-storey society building was constructed.
The court further asked the Centre and state government to consider taking departmental proceedings in accordance with law against bureaucrats.
“The disciplinary authority shall take decision in accordance with law without being influenced by the findings of the high court,” said the bench.
The bench placed on record its appreciation for the complainant Simpreet Singh, a member of National Alliance of People’s Movement. “But for this intervention, perhaps the gross violation by the petitioners (Adarsh Society) would have been detected,” said the Judges.
The court also asked the Adarsh Society to pay Rs one lakh as cost to each of the six respondents including Bharat Bhushan, Director of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Nalini Bhat, Advisor and Competent Authority, MoEF, Sitaram Kunte, former Commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and three others.
In February this year, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao had given sanction to CBI to prosecute former Chief Minister leader Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh scam case, after the BJP-led government in the state recommended action against the Congress leader.
Chavan, a Lok Sabha member from Nanded and MPCC president, had to step down as Chief Minister after the scam surfaced in 2010. He was among the 12 persons chargesheeted by the probe agency in connection with the case.
CBI had alleged that Chavan suggested inclusion of civilian members in Adarsh Housing Society, meant for war veterans and widows of defence personnel, to secure flats for his relatives in the plush complex situated at Colaba in south Mumbai.