MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has held that the plot on which the 31-storey Adarsh building stands in Colaba was not even available to begin with. The court says the plot was created by carving it out of land reserved for road development without following any legal procedure only after bureaucrats applied for the attractively priced flats at a prime Mumbai location.
The HC has also prohibited the state, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) or Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) from permitting any building development in the vicinity of and or within the Colaba Military Station (CMS) without clearance from the Army. The HC has also directed the defence ministry to hold an in-depth inquiry into why was its petition not filed at the earliest.
Justices Ranjit More and R G Ketkar in their 223-page judgment directed the defence ministry to “find out whether the GOCs between 1999 and July 13, 2010 — Maj Gen A R Kumar, Maj Gen V S Yadav, Maj Gen T K Kaul, Maj Gen Tejinder Singh and Maj Gen R K Hooda — compromised with security of the CMS in lieu of allotment of flats in Adarsh.
The HC dismissed a petition by Adarsh to challenge a January 2011 order of demolition passed by the Union environment ministry for violating a law in not securing prior green nod for construction in coastal regulation zone (CRZ-II) area.
Though Adarsh initially sought 8,000-odd sq m of land between 1994 and 1999, in 2002 (after urban development department bureaucrat P V Deshmukh applied for membership and shared information about development plan with Adarsh members) the society changed its stand to seek reduction of the width of Captain Prakash Pethe Marg, which was accepted by the state, the HC observed. “We are satisfied that the change in the stand was not innocuous…” the HC said. Once the land was secured, the other singular illegal act by Adarsh was “not obtaining environmental clearance” and saying it was not necessary and alternatively suggesting that communications dated March 11 and 15, 2003, constituted environmental clearance”.
The society failed to abide by various conditions in the land allotment letter of 2003, said the HC, which also cited the findings of a two-member judicial panel at length on quid pro quo by politicians and bureaucrats and 22 cases of benami flat allotment.
Censuring public servants, the HC reminded them of their duty. “Bureaucrats and ministers are custodians of government property. They are entrusted with its care. People repose confidence that property is in the safe hands of those who will protect it,” said the HC, before concluding that on the face of it, the bureacrats and netas “dishonestly disposed of the property…”. The HC said this was a serious issue, and rejected the objections of Adarsh on the Army’s delay in moving court.