De­mol­ish Adarsh, act against guilty ne­tas, babus, rules HC

High court stays own or­der, gives hous­ing so­ci­ety 12 weeks to ap­peal in SC

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Aye­sha Arvind aye­sha.arvind@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

CON­TIN­UED ON P11 RE­LATED RE­PORTS, P2

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