he Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday arrested two more persons in the Adarsh housing society scam, including a senior serving IAS officer.
With the arrest of Dr. Jairaj Phatak, Member Secretary of the Regional Welfare Board of Western Maharashtra and Ramanand Tiwari, retired IAS [Indian Administrative Service] officer, the total number of arrests in the case has gone up to nine.
Both the suspects will be produced before the special CBI court on Wednesday morning, a CBI official said. Mr. Phatak and Mr. Tiwari were interrogated in the CBI office here since early Tuesday morning before they were formally arrested at 6 p.m.
They have been named in the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the investigating agency in January last year.
Mr. Phatak, the then Municipal Commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), is alleged to have illegally regularised an additional floor in the Adarsh building without referring it to the High Rise Committee, taking the building height to 100.7 metres.
The High Rise committee constituted by the Government of Maharashtra had recommended the height of only 97.60 metres. Mr. Phatak's son brought a flat in the building.
Mr. Tiwari, the then Principal Secretary of the Urban Development Department of the State government, is accused of conspiring with another senior bureaucrat then to facilitate the transfer of additional Floor Space Index (FSI) from the adjoining BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) deport land to Adarsh. This helped Adarsh society to construct a building up to 103.60 metres, the FIR alleged. Mr. Tiwari's son was granted membership in the society.
Meanwhile, a special CBI court on Tuesday granted judicial custody to seven accused in the Adarsh case till April 17. R.C. Thakur, Brigadier (retired) M.M. Wanchu, retired IAS officer P.V. Deshmukh, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, Major General (retired) A.R. Kumar, Major General (retired) T.K. Kaul senior IAS officer Dr. Pradeep Vyas who currently under suspension, were produced before the court. Their police custody ended on Tuesday and the court heard the bail pleas filed by all of them.
The court will issue an order on their bail pleas on Wednesday.
During the arguments in the court on Tuesday, the CBI said that Mr. Thakur, a key accused in the case, had facilitated finance to eight members of the society and the agency suspected that the flats are benami in the name of either the accused or the applicant or the financer or otherwise.
“Investigation revealed that applicant accused R.C. Thakur has facilitated finance to the eight members of the society from a private finance company by name SAN Finance, Nagpur without any agreement between members and the finance company. These eight members are not capable of repaying the finance and hence, it is suspected that the above flats are the Benami of either the applicant/ accused or financer or otherwise,” the say filed by the CBI on the bail application of Mr Thakur stated.
The CBI told the court that it needed to examine some more important witnesses in the case and releasing the accused on bail would hamper the investigation. The agency also showed the court some statements of witnesses recorded under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Opposing the bail plea of Major General (retired) A.R. Kumar, the CBI stated:
“Investigation revealed that despite having personal knowledge that there was a park by name “Khukri Eco-Park” on the said plot and knowing fully well that he was not competent to issue any NOC, he pressurised his sub-ordinate, as a result, NOC was got issued for the land which was in possession of Army.”
“There is need for detention of all the accused. Leaving them at this stage will severely hamper the investigation,” Ejaz Khan, Special Public Prosecutor of CBI told the court.