Expenditure secretary in state finance department among those arrested
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) continued its crackdown in the Adarsh Housing Society scam and arrested two former top Army officers and a senior IAS officer on Wednesday,taking the total number of arrests in the case in two days to seven.
The agency had arrested R C Thakur,a retired defence estates officer,Brigadier (retired) M M Wanchoo,former deputy secretary in the Urban Development Department,P V Deshmukh and former Congress MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani on Tuesday.
On Wednesday,it picked up Major-General (Retd) A R Kumar,ex-general officer commanding (GOC),Maharashtra,Gujarat & Goa Area,Major-General (Retd) Tej Krishan Kaul and the expenditure secretary in the Finance Department of the Maharashtra government,Pradeep Vyas.
Vyas was the collector of Mumbai when he is alleged to have been involved in the scandal. Tuesdays arrests came as Thakur,Wanchoo and Deshmukh were sent to CBI custody until March 31. Gidwani,who has been in judicial custody for allegedly trying to bribe a CBI counsel to dilute his case,will be produced in court on Thursday.
Besides the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act,the CBI has also invoked the Benami Transactions (Prevention) Act against the accused.
In its remand note,the CBI said it needs to unearth how the accused managed to get clearances from the state government and other agencies and whether any payments were made. The CBI also said their custody was required to probe benami transactions. Under the Act,the investigating agency can confiscate property acquired under a benami transaction. This legislation has been rarely used.
Kumar,who was arrested from Hyderabad,was produced before the local court there for his transit remand. He is in transit now and will be produced before the court on Thursday, said a CBI officer. Kaul was asked to report to the CBI office in Mumbai and then later arrested. Kaul lives in Nashik.
Vyas was picked up late in the evening from his residence in Mumbai. According to the CBI,Vyas,during his tenure as collector from August 2002 to May 2005,connived with the other accused of Adarsh society and accepted false documents as proof of income and granted membership to those persons who were not eligible. Vyass wife Seema Vyas was allotted a flat allegedly in return for the favour.
Kumar and Kaul are accused of misusing their official position and fraudulently and illegally issuing No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the collector of Mumbai for development of the land.
Mostly citing the FIR registered against 14 accused in January 2011,the CBI told the court that the accused have not co-operated with them and hence their custody was essential. CBI counsel Ejaz Khan pressed for 14 days custody claiming that it was essential to establish the quid-pro-quo in getting clearances from several State departments and Army authorities.
According to the prosecution,the society was meant for retired defence personnel but at a later stage,civilians were included at the behest of public servants who dealt with the file.