New Delhi, July 22 (ANI
): The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre
to take over the Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai within a week, saying that its present incumbents would not be allowed to deal with its administration or other matters related to it.
Expressing its annoyance over the delay in resolving the controversy surrounding membership allotment in the society, the apex court ruled, "We will not permit you (Society) to deal with it anymore."
The Supreme Court also fixed August 5 as the next date of hearing of the case.
The Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society had moved the Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court verdict of April this year, directing the demolition of the society.
It may be recalled that the Bombay High Court had ordered the Union Environment Ministry to demolish 31-storey society, but entertained and accepted a plea from the counsel representing the society to give the latter a 12-week stay on the demolition order to enable it to appeal to the Supreme Court
. The Maharashtra Government and environment authorities had then objected to the high court's stay order.
The high court had then also directed the state government to initiate criminal prosecution against officers involved in the scam and to restore the plot.
Its order to raze the building came after the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) passed an order to demolish the scam-hit society in 2011, following which its members approached the Bombay High Court challenging it. The ministry had on January 16, 2011 said that the society must be demolished within three months as it was unauthorized and in violation of coastal regulations.
The high court had also then directed the defence ministry to conduct a departmental inquiry against its officers for not taking action earlier.
The society was originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and war widows, but was converted into a 100-metre-tall building with politicians, bureaucrats and army officers allegedly conspiring to get flats allotted to them in the cooperative society at below-market rates.
The scam was unearthed in November 2010 which forced the then Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan to resign.
The matter even went to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and notices were issued by the environment ministry which led to multiple cases in the Bombay High Court. A criminal case was also filed in a special CBI court. In 2010, Maharashtra and the civic administration revoked the occupancy certificate granted in September 2010 as well the water and electricity supply to the building where members were yet to start residing.
The state also set up a two-member judicial panel to probe various issues related to the alleged irregularities, including the title of the plot and allotment to members. The HC had in December 2010 questioned the conduct of the IAS officers, a finding that is prominent even in the final report by the two-member HC judicial panel.
The panel however held that the land belonged to the state government and not the defence ministry as the ministry had claimed.
Earlier this week, the army instituted a Court of Inquiry to probe alleged lapses by former General Officers Commanding of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area (MG&G Area) in not filing a writ petition in the Bombay High Court "at the earliest available opportunity".
According to media reports, a major general has been appointed as presiding officer of the Court of Inquiry and two Brigadiers have been named as its members. All three officers are from a formation located in the area of responsibility of the Southern Command and have moved to Mumbai for the inquiry.
The army said that it is in the process of implementing the Bombay High Court's directions on a petition filed by it.
Media reports quoted sources, as saying that the Court of Inquiry will seek to find out whether the GOCs of the Area between 1999 and July 13, 2010 - Major General A R Kumar, Major General V S Yadav, Major General T K Kaul, Major General Tejinder Singh and Major General R K Hooda - compromised security while allotting flats in the society building.
The Adarsh scandal first surfaced in 2003 when it was reported that a high rise building was coming up in Colaba, close to military installations, overriding objections. Subsequent probes revealed the involvement of then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who had to resign when it was found that he accorded approval to the project as Revenue Minister and his relatives had flats in the society building. (ANI