Two retired judges to probe Adarsh scam: Prithviraj Chavan

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

NAGPUR - Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Wednesday said that the plot on which the scam-hit Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society building is constructed belongs to the state government and added that the case would be probed by two retired judges.

The chief minister announced a two-member committee, comprising of either retired Supreme Court or high court judges, would probe the scam under the Commission of Inquiry Act.

Chavan was replying to an opposition-sponsored debate on the Adarsh Society scam in the state assembly here and rejected its demand to set up a Joint Legislators’ Committee to investigate the issue.

The chief minister also assured strict action against the 21 government officials and others for their involvement in the scam and if any instances of violations of floor space index rules (FSI) came to the fore.

Though he did not specify names for the proposed committee or its terms of reference, Chavan said it would be assisted by a retired high-ranking official of the level of a chief secretary.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena had raised the issue alleging that the prime plot of land meant for housing Kargil war widows and heroes had been usurped by politicians and bureaucrats.

“We demanded a joint legislators’ committee to examine the issue, but the government has assured that it would set up a formal commission of enquiry into the issue,” Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse later told reporters.

The Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society shot into the limelight after three relatives of former chief minister Ashok Chavan were found to have flats in the 31-storey block.

The scam claimed Ashok Chavan’s job after allegations surfaced of collusion between bureaucrats and politicians to corner the prime property.

Taking a serious view of at least four crucial documents missing from the Adarsh Society files, Prithviraj Chavan said that the Mumbai Police Crime Branch is probing the issue and had got some leads in the matter.

Prithviraj Chavan said that he would make it mandatory for all such documents to be electronically scanned and filed to prevent similar occurrences in future.

Prithviraj Chavan’s stand on the ownership of the land effectively endorses his predecessor Ashok Chavan’s oft-repeated contentions that the plot belonged to the state government, and a similar claim was made nearly six weeks ago by the Adarsh Society.

He mentioned that although the land initially belonged to the defence ministry, it now belonged to the state government.

Chavan also supported a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the land ownership issue, while violations of other provisions like Coastal Regulation Zone by the Adarsh Society were being examined by the environment ministry.

Chiding the media, Chavan said that the Adarsh issue was virtually like a media trial of an individual and said that the government was planning a code of conduct for the media.

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