Members of the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society have produced documents procured under Right to Information (RTI) that purportedly substantiate their long-standing claim that the Army has no records of any ownership of block VI of Colaba division on which the 31-storey building stands.
In an RTI reply received by the members on August 9 from the Army Headquarters of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa (MG&G), Y Vijayakumar, the Public Information Officer, said, “It is intimated that no information is held on the queries…with the HQ. You are requested to transfer the queries to appropriate PIO who is custodian of the information sought.”
Society members say the only other custodian is the office of the Defence Estate Officer (DEO), which has already deposed before the judicial commission earlier that the land belonged to the state government.
R C Thakur, secretary of the society and a former DEO himself, said, “For three-and-a-half years, the Ministry of Defence refused to provide any information regarding their claim on this land. Despite appealing to the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) in the past, we got no respite as invariably some clause was cited to deny us the information sought. However, the change of government has finally forced Army to give the answers.”
On July 7 this year, CIC Rajiv Mathur directed the Army Headquarters to transfer the queries sought under the RTI to the custodian of the information. The Army replied on August 4, which was received by the society on August 9.
“The Army’s reply clearly indicates that they have no records and this proves they had been misleading everyone despite the judicial commission concluding that the land belonged to the state government,” said Thakur. The members plan to approach the court with the RTI reply on August 20.
“We want the everyone involved in this to be strictly punished for misleading everyone,” said retired Brigadier M M Wanchoo, who was jailed for 69 days after the scam broke out in 2010. Initial reports had said that apartments in the building allegedly constructed for widows of Kargil martyrs were being grabbed by bureaucrats in connivance with political leaders.
Former CM Ashok Chavan was forced to resign in the wake of the scam. A judicial commission in 2013 concluded that the land belonged to the state government. The Ministry of Defence had challenged the the findings and approached the Bombay High Court.