Demolish Adarsh, act against guilty netas, babus, rules HC
High court stays own order, gives housing society 12 weeks to appeal in SC
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday ordered the demolition of the 31-storey Adarsh housing society building at Colaba, which was at the centre of a corruption scandal that involved politicians, bureaucrats and army officers who stood accused of colluding to obtain flats in project originally meant for war heroes and widows.
Justices Ranjit More and justice Rajesh Ketkar directed the Union environment ministry and the defence ministry to ensure that the building is demolished “in its entirety” and the cost of demolition recovered from the housing society. The court, however, stayed its own order for the next 12 weeks to allow the housing society to appeal in the Supreme Court.
The judges also directed the Centre and the Maharashtra government to consider initiating an inquiry into how acquisition of the land for project came to be allowed. “In case not already done, the Union and Maharashtra government are to consider initiating appropriate civil and criminal action against politicians, ministers and bureaucrats… [for] committing several offences by way of acquiring the defence plot and misuse and abuse of power and to consider initiating a departmental inquiry and take disciplinary action against its own officials,” the bench said.
The scandal broke in 2010 when the defence authorities accused the promoters of encroaching on its land in Colaba. Investigations revealed that several prominent politicians, army officers and bureaucrats had got together to subvert all rules to build a 100-metre tower in the prime location. It did not even have clearances under the coastal regulator zone notification. The scandal forced Ashok Chavan to resign as chief minister. His successor Prithviraj Chavan set up a two- member probe panel but the Congress-NCP only partially accepted it findings, leading to allegations that it was an attempt to shield senior politicians. Besides Chavan, two other ex- CMs, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde, came under the scanner for granting clearances to the tower. Twenty-one bureaucrats and several politicians or their kin own flats in the tower in their name or through benami transactions.
In 2011, the CBI began an independent probe into the scam, registered an FIR against 14 persons and later, filed a charge sheet against 13 accused, including Chavan.
The same year, the Union environment ministry ordered demolition of the tower. The society, however, approached the Bombay high court against the demolition, claiming the ministry had no powers to pass such an order.
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