The Bombay High Court directive to demolish the controversial Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society illegal building in Mumbai is a major setback for the Congress, which was trying to revive its political fortunes under the leadership of former chief minister Ashok Chavan in Maharashtra.
The court’s directives to the Centre and state governments to initiate proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats allegedly involved in the Adarsh scam has once again brought the issue of corruption to the centre stage in the state. The big question is, will the Centre and the state take the bold decision to demolish Adarsh?
Highly placed sources in the state government said, “We will strictly adhere to the court directives. But whatever decision is taken will be collective, after consulting the ministry of defense.”
Although the Adarsh Commission had stated that the land title came under the state government, this was contested by some claiming that it belongs to defense department.
Taking a cue from the court order, the state government will proceed with the investigations against the politicians and bureaucrats (some have retired). Some investigations are already underway. At the moment the Centre and state are going to use the 12 weeks time period granted by the court to work out the modalities of what to do and who will do it. For instance, if the structure is to be pulled down, who will bear the financial costs and how will money be refunded to flat owners who are not involved in the scam?
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There are 102 flats in Adarsh, 2BHK and 3 BHK. The minimum investment in a flat which was heavily underpriced was Rs 60 lakh upwards. Currently, the cost of each flat is not less than Rs 6 crore.
In February 2016, Maharashtra Governor C H Vidhaysagar Rao had sanctioned the CBI to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the controversial Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society Scam. The governor was guided by the council of ministers who had given their nod.
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In December 2014, Congress-NCP government lead by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was forced to partially accept the Adarsh Commission Report which exposed rampant corruption and the nexus between top politicians and bureaucrats who bent rules to serve their own interests. Despite serious indictments, the government gave a clean chit to all politicians and ordered an internal departmental probe against 12 bureaucrats.
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In 2014, the then governor K Shankaranarayanan had refused permission to CBI to prosecute Ashok Chavan. The Adarsh Cooperative Housing Scam was first reported exclusively in The Indian Express in 2002. Yet, successive chief ministers went ahead with the project. On November 8, 2008 then chief minister Ashok Chavan was forced to resign for allocating flats to his close relatives. He was replaced with Prithviraj Chavan from PMO known for his upright image. Subsequently, political pulls and pressures saw the state government halfheartedly pursue the matter. The 670-page Adarsh Commission Report by Justice J A Patil (retd) and P Subramanyam (member) exposed the malpractices of politicians, bureaucrats and defense persons.