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Adarsh Society scam: Panel summons to ex-Maharashtra CMs' Deshmukh, Chavan

Mumbai , Wed, 11 May 2011 ANI

Mumbai, May 11 (ANI): The inquiry commission probing the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai has summoned former Maharashtra Chief Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan to appear before it as witnesses.


The two-member commission, which had summoned Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde last week, issued summons to Deshmukh, presently Union Minister for Rural Development, and Chavan.


Chavan, who had to step down as chief minister last year following revelations of the Adarsh controversy, was among the 14 accused named by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its probe into the scam.


Chavan, the then revenue minister of the state, is accused of recommending 40 per cent allotment of flats in the Adarsh Society, originally meant for Kargil war widows, to civilians. His relatives allegedly got flats in return.


As chief minister, Deshmukh had dealt with files pertaining to the high rise in upscale Colaba.


Both have now been added to the list of 17 witnesses summoned last week.


The list includes State Minister for Water Resources Sunil Tatkare, Adarsh Society's General Secretary R C Thakur, former Principal Secretary of Urban Development department Ramanand Tiwari, Congress leader K L Gidwani, former Collector of Mumbai, Pradeep Vyas and former Under Secretary of Urban Development department P V Deshmukh.


The Commission is presently recording the evidence of first witness, Brigadier Deepak Saxena of the Army Headquarters (Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat).


In March this year, the Bombay High Court had lauded the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for being on the right track in its investigation into the scam.


A division bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and Rajesh Ketkar, while hearing petitions filed in connection with the scam, said: "We are positive that CBI is investigating in the right track. Some time should be given to the agency to conduct further probe including the missing files case which is also a serious offence."


The petitions included those of the Adarsh Society"s seeking the investigating agency to de-freeze its bank accounts and social activist Simpreet Singh"s plea wanting the High Court to supervise the probe.


The court, while hearing the petition filed by Adarsh Society, asked the CBI to consider if concession could be given regarding the Rs 32 lakh dues incurred by the society in upmarket Colaba area in Mumbai.


The Adarsh Society has been directed to file an affidavit giving a list of their dues by March 25.


"Investigations have revealed that prime accused K L Gidwani has three flats in the Society under "Benami" names. All transactions made by the accused are from the Society"s accounts. More instances of "Benami" transactions are evident and needs to be proved further," said Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambatta, who appeared for the CBI.


The CBI had on January 29 registered a case against 13 people, including Chavan in connection with the case.


The Environment Ministry had on January 16 directed the society to demolish within three months the unauthorised building in South Mumbai for violating coastal regulations.


Apart from Chavan, top bureaucrats too faced the axe, most notably among them being Maharashtra"s Chief Information Commissioner Ramanand Tiwari and Human Rights Commissioner Subhash K Lalla.


The 31-storey Adarsh Housing Society, originally meant for Kargil war heroes, landed in controversy after media reports said that several politicians, bureaucrats and defence personnel owned flats there. (ANI)


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