Former Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak, who has been named as an accused in the First Information Report (FIR) filed in the Adarsh housing society matter, denied here on Thursday of misusing his powers for granting any benefits to the society.
He spoke to the journalists here two days after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched his premises in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Pandharkawada in Yavatmal district (Maharashtra).
The FIR filed by the CBI alleged that as the Municipal Commissioner he had “illegally regularised” the additional height of the building without referring it to the High Rise Committee.
“Firstly, the High Rise Committee is an advisory body and not a statutory body. In this case, the High Rise Committee had already approved the structural height of 103 metres. It was only that the society did not have the Floor Space Index (FSI) then, so the building plan was of 97 metres,“ he said. He said that in November 2009, the committee members met him and shared the minutes of the High Rise Committee which showed that it had approved 103 metres structural height.
“After seeing the minutes, I thought there was no need to resend the proposal to the committee,” he said, adding that in giving the approval, he had not overstepped his executive powers.
It was alleged that the society constructed an additional floor in the building without taking proper permissions. This increased the height of the building from 97.6 metres to 100.7 metres. He approved the increased height of the building. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) slapped penalty for the additional floor and regularised it.
He said that his approval was subject to fire brigade approval.
He also claimed that the land in question did not belong to the Defence Ministry. “The 1991 Mumbai Development Plan clearly states it is government land,” he said.
When asked about the CBI searches, he said, he did not think that the agency found any incriminating documents in his possession. He said that he did not have any original documents related to the High Rise Commission.
Clarifying his position on the flats owned by his family, he said that he had informed the government from time-to-time about all his properties. He said that he had his wife had taken loan for two of their flats and they were still repaying it. He also gave information about the ancestral land that his father owned in Pandharkawada, their native place in Yavatmal district.
“There is no money which is not accounted for and no property that is not mentioned in the immovable properties return form,” he said.
Asked whether he thought he was being implicated, he denied it. “I don't think anyone is implicating me. In the government, it happens that what one officer thinks as right, the other thinks as wrong. The CBI finds my decision objectionable so they are investigating it,” he said, adding that he was willing to cooperate with the agency during the investigation.
He said that he had not been summoned for questioning by the CBI. To a question he said if the agency named him in the charge sheet, he would challenge it in the court.