Maharashtra cabinet rejects Adarsh housing scam report4 min read . Updated: 20 Dec 2013, 10:07 PM IST
Maharashtra government is expected to table the Patil committee report in the state legislature later in the afternoon
Mumbai: The Maharashtra cabinet on Friday rejected a report prepared by a two-member judicial commission on the Adarsh housing scam, disagreeing with the state-appointed panel’s observation that the builders of the illegal apartment complex received political patronage from senior politicians and top bureaucrats.
The report indicted four former chief ministers of Maharashtra, including the current Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, two ministers in the state cabinet, one former chief secretary, three additional chief secretaries and several officers in the ranks of principal secretary and secretary.
Adarsh, a 31-storey building in the south Mumbai neighbourhood of Colaba, was meant for retired defence personnel and the families of Kargil war martyrs, but many political leaders and bureaucrats were found to have bent the rules to secure allotments of flats in the complex.
Chavan and Nilangekar were indicted for their role as revenue ministers in 1999-2004. Minister for water resources Sunil Tatkare and higher education minister Rajesh Tope were indicted for their role as the junior ministers in the urban development (UD) ministry during 1999-04 period. Both Tatkare and Tope belong to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The way the Congress party has dealt with the report was incorrect, said Girish Kuber, editor of Marathi daily Loksatta and a political analyst. “It seems that the Congress has not learnt any lesson from the drubbing it had received in the recent assembly polls," Kuber said.
The panel, headed by retired Bombay high court judge J.A. Patil, termed the prominent role played by Chavan in the entire affair nefarious and named him among public servants who used their position to grant quid pro quo clearances to Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society (CHS).
Other government officials named in the report for granting quid pro quo clearances are Pradeep Vyas, former collector of Mumbai; P.V. Deshmukh, secretary in the state’s urban development ministry; Ramanand Tiwari, former additional chief secretary (urban development); Jairaj Phatak, former municipal commissioner of Mumbai; late Babasaheb Kupekar, former speaker of the state assembly and Satyasandha Barve, father of former joint commissioner of police (traffic) Sanjay Barve.
The commission also found that three close relatives of Chavan, Bhagwati Sharma (mother-in-law); Seema Sharma (sister-in-law) and Madanlal Sharma (brother of father-in-law) were not eligible to receive the membership of Adarsh CHS.
The Patil panel found that 25 people were ineligible to receive membership of Adarsh CHS, including the Sharmas.
They include Devyani Khobragade, who is at the centre stage of a diplomatic row between India and the US, former Union power minister and Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu and Abhay Sancheti, nephew of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rajya Sabha MP Ajay Sancheti.
Ajay Sancheti, who is considered to be a close confidant of former BJP president Nitin Gadkari, belong to Nagpur, the hometown of Gadkari. Sanjoy Sankaran, son of former chief secretary of the state D.K. Sankaran and Kupekar were also named.
The commission also found that 25 members of the society were holding properties in the name of other people.
It also observed that membership of the society was not restricted to retired defence personnel or Kargil war heroes or their survivors.
The panel found several violations of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) Act and the norms for granting membership of the CHS.
The commission found the act of reduction in the width of Prakash Pethe Marg, a road adjacent to the Adarsh CHS, was done by flouting several provisions of MRTP Act to serve the interest of the members of the housing society.
Adarsh CHS also never sought the mandatory permission from the Union ministry of environment and forest despite the fact that the Adarsh CHS plot fell within CRZ II category and any construction activity of more than ₹ 5 crore in CRZ II requires clearance from the ministry.
Despite the fact that the rules clearly prohibit a person who has been allotted subsidized housing by the government from getting another house from the government at a subsidized rate, many were granted membership of Adarsh CHS without any background checks, the panel observed.
On Friday, the state government tabled an Action Taken Report (ATR) along with Patil Commission’s report.
The government, in the ATR, concurred with commission’s findings that the land didn’t belong to the ministry of defence and membership of Adarsh CHS was not restricted to defence personnel and Kargil war heroes.
“The government ran away from discussion in the House by tabling the report on the last day of winter session of state legislature but they won’t able to run away from the media and the people," said Devendra Fadnavis, state president of the BJP.
State Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant defended the state government’s decision. “If the government thinks the finding of the judicial panel appointed by it are not correct then the government is very much within its constitutional rights to do so," Sawant said.