Maharashtra partially accepts Adarsh Society probe report
The Maharashtra cabinet Thursday partially accepted the report on the probe into the Adarsh Housing Society scam after rejecting it a fortnight ago. The opposition cried foul and threatened to move court.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told media persons that the government will initiate action against 25 members who were "ineligible" and also prosecute those owning property by proxy in the society, as mentioned in the report by the two-member judicial commission.
However, there will be no action against 13 officials and politicians, including former chief minister Ashok Chavan, named in the report, Chavan said after a review of the report undertaken by the cabinet Thursday.
"Since the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has already begun action against various officials, the government will not initiate separate proceedings against the same people," Chavan said.
He also ruled out any action against six top politicians named in the report, virtually giving them a clean chit.
Opposition parties in the state, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, termed the review as an eyewash and threatened to move court in the matter.
Leader of Opposition in the legislative assembly Eknath Khadse termed the decision "a total eyewash" and an attempt to fool the people of the state.
Leader of Opposition in the legislative council Vinod Tawde demanded that the government convene a special session of the legislature to discuss the report.
The cabinet review of the probe commission report came a fortnight after it was rejected by the cabinet.
Set up in January 2011, the commission comprising Justice (retd) J.A. Patil and former chief secretary P. Subramanium, submitted its interim report in April 2012 and the full report in April 2013.
On the political patronage enjoyed by the society, the judicial commission had said in its report that the society was backed by four former chief ministers -- late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde (now home minister), Ashok Chavan and Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar -- besides two former ministers Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope.
That had led to criticism from all quarters, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Chavan Thursday said the government has accepted the finding that the land on which the 31-storeyed building stands belongs to the state government.
The cabinet also accepted the conclusion that the land was not reserved for housing war widows or Kargil heroes, Chavan said.
On the question of the society membership, Chavan said that out of the 102 total members, the commission found 25 people were ineligible to be members of the society.
The ineligible members include senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former assembly speaker Babasaheb Kupekar, former Shiv Sena MP and minister Suresh Prabhu, three relatives of former chief minister Ashok Chavan, and former Indian consul general general in New York Devyani Khobragade.
"We shall send notice to them and take appropriate steps to cancel their membership. Similarly, for those 22 who made proxy purchases, suitable action will be initiated," Chavan said.
On the legality of the building that was declared "illegal" and ordered to be demolished, the chief minister said the Adarsh Society has challenged the decision in the Bombay High Court and the matter was before the court.
He said action would also be taken against officials in various departments found violating norms in giving permissions and clearances to the society.
(Posted on 02-01-2014)