Pass the parcel on Adarsh
25 June, 2012
a href=”http://www.indianexpress.com/news/shinde-shifts-blame/966859/”>IE reports on the interrogation of Sushil Kumar Shinde, erstwhile chief minister of Maharashtra and the incumbent union power minister:
Shifting blame of the Adarsh Housing Society scam on his predecessor, Union Power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Monday told the two-member judicial panel that he had not issued the Letter of Intent (LoI) or granted additional Floor Space Index (FSI) to the housing society during his tenure as Maharashtra Chief Minister. But these decisions were taken by Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, during his tenure as CM of Maharashtra before January 18, 2003, Shinde said.
According to Shinde’s deposition and paper records, the decision to allot the land in question to Adarsh society was taken prior to him taking over as the CM. “The Letter of Intent (LOI) was issued in favour of Adarsh on the morning of January 18, 2003 when Vilasrao Deshmukh was the chief minister. It was not issued under my instructions and it was never brought to my notice,” Shinde said. Shinde had take oath on same evening and taken charge of the office only after 8 pm, he claims.
Both Shinde and Deshmukh, who have handled the Adarsh papers during their tenure as CMs, have been questioned by the CBI earlier. CBI has been investigating into the scam since last year and had arrested nine of the 14 accused named in the scam. Another former CM Ashok Chavan is one of the accused.
TOI reports that more is to follow:
Shinde took sips of water as he answered questions from lawyers and the commission. He is the first former CM to be examined before the commission and will be followed by Vilasrao on Tuesday and Ashok Chavan on Saturday. Shinde told the commission that he had no role in deciding to allot land to Adarsh or grant the society more construction rights in the form of floor space index (FSI).
Questioned by counsels for the commission senior advocate Dipan Merchant and advocate Bharat Zhaveri, about Adarsh being allotted FSI from the adjoining BEST plot to construct additional floors, Shinde said, “The additional FSI in respect of the adjoining land to Adarsh was not done during my tenure.” It was during the tenure of Deshmukh who had succeeded Shinde as CM that the FSI was allotted to Adarsh.
Shinde said he was unaware that kin of senior bureaucrats, including collector Pradeep Vyas and chief minister’s secretary Subhash Lalla were Adarsh members. Shinde also said he did not remember if Vyas was Mumbai collector during his tenure.
Vyas was in-charge of verifying and scrutinizing the list of Adarsh members.
“It was not brought to my notice that the name of Seema Vyas, which was in the list of members, was the wife of collector Vyas. The CM’s secretary Lalla did not bring to my notice that his relations (mother and daughter) were members of Adarsh,” said Shinde, adding, “I cannot say whether it was proper or improper on the part of the concerned to have not brought to my notice that Seema Vyas was a member of Adarsh.”
Shinde put the onus on government officers, saying he had acted on notings from various departments and officers, and had no reason to independently verify the contents. “I acted on whatever the department said in the noting,” he said.
This included the fact that the LOI had sought MoEF clearance and environmental clearance was not obtained, that the Adarsh matter should have been referred to the cabinet, or that at the time of allotment the land was in the military’s possession.
Grilled about the fact that the Adarsh issue was not placed before the cabinet, as per rules, Shinde responded, “It is impossible for the CM to take cases above Rs 50,000 to the cabinet. Every day hundreds of cases involving value of more than Rs 50,000 are placed before the CM.” Shinde further said that since the collector was asked to verify membership before possession of the land is given, “I did not think it necessary to place the Adarsh issue before the cabinet”.
Shinde also said ex-MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani would meet him in connection with Adarsh, but no other member ever approached him.
Meanwhile, government counsel A Y Sakhare told the court it was difficult to trace some records because of the fire at Mantralaya. “It may have been gutted since the records are usually kept on the fourth floor,” remarked member P Subrahmanyam.
26 June, 2012
ETand reports on the deposition made by Vilasrao Deshmukh, quondam chief minister of Maharastra, union minister for science and technology:
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Union Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh deposed before the judicial commission investigating the Adarsh scam on Tuesday.
Mr Deshmukh claimed that he cleared some of the files related to Adarsh housing society only because senior bureaucrats had checked all documents and recommended positive action on them.
Mr.Deshmukh told the commission that he cleared the files only on the basis of senior officials from revenue department, urban development department and other departments giving positive remarks on the files. He claimed that as a minister he did not have the time to check all documents related to the case so he depended on the advise from senior officials and signed the files.
IE believes that this is a clever way to lay the blame on the next witness:
Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today appeared to be laying the blame for ‘Adarsh’ scam at former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s door when he told the judicial panel probing it that the land was allotted to the society after a go-ahead from the revenue department.
During Deshmukh’s first stint as CM, Ashok Chavan was the revenue minister when the land was allotted to the controversial housing society in upscale Colaba.
“Once a file seeking allotment of government land is submitted to the Chief Minister’s office, the principal secretary to the CM sees if the proposal has been approved by the revenue minister. If the file is positive and there is no difference of opinion between the revenue minister and other officers then the secretary briefs the CM and approval is given,” Deshmukh said in his deposition before the panel as a witness.
30 June, 2012
BS reports that Ashok Chavan completes the cycle by blaming Vilasrao Deshmukh:
The blame-game over Adarsh scam continued today with former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan pointing a finger at his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh, saying as revenue minister during the latter’s tenure it was beyond his jurisdiction to allot land to the society.
“All land allotment matters pertaining to Mumbai city, Mumbai suburb and Pune city comes under the jurisdiction of the Chief Minister irrespective of the value of the land. All matters pertaining to land allotment in rest of Maharashtra is under the jurisdiction of the revenue minister,” Chavan told the two-member inquiry commission probing the scam.
Chavan was state revenue minister from October 1999 to January 2003 when Deshmukh was Chief Minister.
Deshmukh, during his stint as Chief Minister had issued Letter of Intent (LOI) in favour of allotting land to the Adarsh society.
“In the revenue department, the file is processed by various officers like the under secretary, deputy secretary and principal secretary after which it is sent to the revenue minister along with a note from the principal secretary.
“Usually the revenue minister goes by the recommendation made by the principal secretary and forwards the file to the CM who takes final decision,” Chavan said.