[ecis2016.org] The Bombay High Court, has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to demolish the scam-tainted Adarsh tower in south Mumbai, but stayed its order, while also seeking criminal proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats for misuse of powers
Holding that the scam-tainted 31-storeyed Adarsh Apartments was illegally constructed, the Bombay High Court, on April 29, 2016, directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, to demolish the tower in the Colaba area of south Mumbai, and sought criminal proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats for ‘misuse’ of powers.
However, on a plea made by the Adarsh Housing Society, a division bench stayed its order for 12 weeks, to enable it to file an appeal in the Supreme Court, despite opposition by the Maharashtra government.
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The demolition should be carried out at the expense of the petitioners (Adarsh Society), ruled the court. The court also asked the centre and Maharashtra government, to consider initiating departmental proceedings, as well as civil and criminal proceedings against bureaucrats, ministers and politicians, if they had not already done so, for various offences in acquiring the plot on which the society stands, and also for misuse and abuse of powers. “The disciplinary authority shall take its decision in accordance with law, without being influenced by the findings of the high court,” said the bench.
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The order was delivered in an open court, by a bench of justices RV More and RG Ketkar, on a bunch of petitions filed by Adarsh Society, challenging the demolition order of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and a title suit filed by the Defence Ministry, claiming that it owned the land on which the 31-storeyed society building was constructed.
The bench placed on record its appreciation for the complainant, Simpreet Singh, a member of National Alliance of People’s Movement. “But for this intervention, perhaps the gross violation by the petitioners (Adarsh Society) would not have been detected,” said the judges.
The court also asked the Adarsh Society to pay Rs one lakh as cost, to each of the six respondents including Bharat Bhushan, director of Ministry of Environment and Forests; Nalini Bhat, advisor and competent authority, MoEF; Sitaram Kunte, former commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and three others.
Adarsh scam – brief history
- The Adarsh housing scam kicked up a political storm in 2010, forcing the then chief minister Ashok Chavan of the Congress to resign.
- The housing project, standing on prime land in Mumbai, was meant for the welfare of war veterans and war widows. However, several influential politicians and top bureaucrats allegedly subverted the rules for their own benefit, or that of their close relatives, to take advantage of the scheme.
- Adarsh Society also courted controversy, for flouting several environment norms and regulations and for allegedly not taking the requisite permissions.
- In January 2011, the Union Ministry of Environment And Forest had issued a demolition order, mainly on the grounds that the society did not have Coastal Zone Regulation (CRZ) clearance.
- Adarsh Society had filed a petition in 2011 in the Bombay High Court, challenging the demolition order issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
- The Defence Ministry also filed a petition in the high court, seeking implementation of its demolition order, besides filing a title suit in the high court, claiming that it was the owner of the plot on which the plush Adarsh Society building stands in south Mumbai.
- The bench of justices RV More and RG Ketkar had in September 2015 started final hearing of petitions.
- In December 2015, the High Court bench had reserved its order, after hearing all the parties. The judgement was delivered today.
- The building remains unoccupied and without electricity and water supply.
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