Probe panel grills ex-BMC chiefhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/probe-panel-grills-exbmc-chief/

Probe panel grills ex-BMC chief

Former BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak told the judicial commission probing the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scandal on Wednesday that he did not feel it necessary to allocate the Adarsh file to another officer because his son was a member of the society.

Former BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak told the judicial commission probing the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society (CHS)scandal on Wednesday that he did not feel it necessary to allocate the Adarsh file to another officer because his son was a member of the society.

Phatak,one of those accused in the case,began his deposition before the two-member panel on Wednesday. During questioning by counsel for the commission Dipan Merchant,he said,“During the period when I was the Municipal Commissioner,I was aware that my son was a member of the Adarsh CHS. I did not think it necessary to recuse myself from the file on grounds that my son was a member. According to me,it is not required under the All India Services (Conduct) Rules.”

Earlier,during cross-examination by the Ministry of Defence counsel Aniket Nikam,Phatak admitted he did not inform the Maharashtra government in writing about his son’s membership. He,however,said he “might have orally informed” the then chief secretary Johny Joseph.

In the FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI),Phatak is accused of having regularised the construction of an additional floor in the society without referring to the highrise committee. His son Kanishka owns a flat in the 31-storey tower,which has allegedly been built in violation of environmental laws and other rules.

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In an affidavit filed before the commission in July,BMC chief Subodh Kumar had claimed that the members of the society,led by former Congress MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani,had met Phatak in October 2009 regarding an additional floor to be built in the society. According to Kumar,his predecessor had given his assent and said there was no need to take an approval from the highrise committee.

During his deposition,Phatak also said he had visited the Adarsh building site about five or six times for paying cheques to the society. He subsequently claimed that as the cheques were of a large amount,he thought it fit to hand them over personally instead of sending an assistant.

He also said that Seema Vyas was his colleague when he was working in the Food and Civil Supplies Department for three years. Seema,who also owns a flat in Adarsh,is the wife of former collector Pradeep Vyas. According to the CBI,Pradeep had in connivance with other accused persons accepted false documents from members of the society.

While Phatak maintained that the building stands on reclaimed land,he said it was reclaimed not by BEST but by the state public works department.

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