Mumbai: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan again deposed before the two-member judicial panel probing the Adarsh Housing Society scam on Monday.
Chavan had appeared before the panel for the first time on Saturday (June 30) and blamed his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh, saying as revenue minister during the latter’s tenure it was beyond his jurisdiction to allot land to the society.
Blaming Deshmukh for the controversial land allotment, Chavan said the allotment of land in Mumbai city is governed by the Government Resolution of 1999 and Directions from the Chief Minister’s Office, which implies that for allotment of land in Mumbai city, the approval has to come from the Chief Minister.
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.
In his deposition last Tuesday, Deshmukh had said he was not informed by the revenue department that the land where the building stands in up-market Colaba was in possession of the Local Military Authority and a garden existed on the plot.
Chavan, who had to step down as Chief Minister after the scam came to light, also refuted the allegation that he had cleared a proposal for including 40 per cent civilians as members of the society.
During his deposition Deshmukh has said that Adarsh society had written a letter to him in June 2000 stating that its members had a meeting with revenue minister Chavan wherein it was agreed to include 40 per cent civilians as members. “I sent the letter to the revenue department. The revenue minister, however, did not get back to me,” Dehsmukh had said.
Chavan, who was accompanied by his daughter and some MLAs, said he never had any meeting with the society members after the June 2, 2000 and that the file came back to him only in 2002 with a proposal of conditional Letter of Intent (LOI) in favour of the society signed by the principal secretary of the revenue department.
Deshmukh, Union Science and Technology Minister, while seeking to absolve himself, had appeared to be laying the blame at Chavan’s door when he told the Commission that the land was allotted to the society after a go-ahead from the revenue department.
Deshmukh’s deposition followed that of Union Minister of Power Sushil Kumar Shinde, also a former Chief Minister, who too had sought to wash his hands off the scam, saying the decision on allotting government land and granting additional FSI to the housing society was taken during Deshmukh’s tenure.
Chavan is the only former Chief Minister among the three under the scanner who has been made an accused in the case registered by the CBI in connection with the Adarsh scam.
CBI has alleged in its FIR that Chavan as revenue minister okayed inclusion of civilians in the society meant for Defence personnel and, as quid pro quo, his relatives got flats in the 32-storey plush building.