Adarsh Housing Society was upscale residential complex in Colaba, Mumbai, built on defence land with an aim to provide cost-effective residences to Kargil war heroes and their widows.
Adarsh Scam: Bombay High Court on Friday set aside an order which allowed prosecution of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in connection with the alleged Adarsh Scam. The court said that CBI failed to bring any fresh material against Chavan that could be considered as plausible “evidence”. The infamous Adarsh Housing scam had rocked serving Congress government in Maharashtra in 2009 and ultimately led to the resignation of then serving chief minister Chavan. Adarsh Housing Society was upscale residential complex in Colaba, Mumbai, built on defence land with an aim to provide cost-effective residences to Kargil war heroes and their widows. However, the beneficiaries of the scheme ended up to be the relatives of top Netas and bureaucrats. Though the scam was under scanner since 2002, it hit the cover pages and prime times only in 2010 when media started a scrutiny of the high-profile list of owners. The massive media coverage of the case led to separate investigations from Central Bureau of Investigation and Indian Army. Comptroller and Auditor General of India too submitted a report in the case.
The media scrutiny and rapid developments in probe revealed flouting of the norms on the part of developers. The probe found that Navy had objected to Maharashtra government’s approval for construction of the 100-metre tall building as it stood next to a planned helipad and military installations. Yet, Maharashtra government went ahead and approved Occupancy Certificates. The investigation revealed that no NoC was obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Also, it had only received the nod to build on six floors.
Ashok Chavan loses CMship
Serving Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan faced major heat after the scam. It was found that his relatives, including his mother-in-law, owned three flats. It was Chavan who approved the nod to society as revenue minister and even approved the sale of 40 per cent flats to the civilians. Several RTI queries revealed that a number of bureaucrats who cleared files got flats registered in name of their children – a clear case of quid pro quo. Chavan resigned on 9 November, 2010 and handed over power to Prithviraj Chavan. The case took an interesting turn later when some of the important files in the case went missing. This prompted the High Court to once again intervene in the matter and issue the protection of files.
In 2011, the CBI registered an FIR against Chavan and 13 others under IPC section 120 (b) for criminal conspiracy and various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act. The charge sheet was filed against Chavan and 13 others in 2012. Also, the CBI arrested Pradeep Vyas , Secretary (Expenditure) of the Finance Department. Meanwhile, in Dec 2013, Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan refused a sanction to prosecute Ashok Chavan. In January 2014, the Sessions court also refused to delete Chavan’s name as accused in the case on request made by CBI.
Army veteran offer to return flats
Apart from the politicians and bureaucrats, several top defence officials were also allotted flats who later offered to return them. These officials included Admiral Madhavendra Singh, General Deepak Kapoor, former Chief of Army former Chief of the Naval Staff, General Nirmal Chander Vij, former Chief of Army.
Cancellation of membership and demolition of Adarsh building
Ministry of Environment and Forest took serious cognizance of the case and ordered demolition of the illegally constructed floors. Later, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) also cancelled the Occupancy Certificate and eventually the power and water supplies were cut. The Bombay high court also ordered the demolition of the building which was found to be posing risk to security and environment.
Meanwhile, Adarsh Commission set up by the government recommended the cancellation of allotments to several illegal flat owners. This included the names of current Union Minister Suresh Prabhu, Chavan’s relatives and Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.