General (retired) Deepak Kapoor, former Chief of Army Staff and a former member of the tainted Adarsh co-operative housing society, told the Adarsh judicial commission on Thursday that he did not consider the building a security threat. His stand is in contrast to the position of the Ministry of Defence which refused to cross-examine him on Thursday, but has consistently stated that it finds the building a security threat.
When asked if the building was not perceived as a threat post 26/11 too, he put the blame on the local Military authorities for not pointing out if it was a threat. “Post November 26, 2008, a large number of recommendations were made by all the three service headquarters – Army, Navy and Air Force – to ensure that such strikes do not happen. Specifically, this was not one of the recommendations made to the Government of India and suo motu I did not recommend it to the government,” he told the commission.
He himself enumerated the aspects to be considered to decide whether a structure is a security threat or not. But when he was shown the actual photographs of the proximity between the Adarsh building and the military installations, and asked why it did not strike him when he visited the location, he said, “I had gone to see the location of the Adarsh building as a prospective member and therefore this aspect of security did not cross my mind at that time.”
He said he was aware of the site where the building was coming up and that it was in the vicinity of the Army area in Colaba. But he said, “I did not find out whether the construction of a high rise building consisting of 30 floors close to the Army area would be a security hazard to the Army. I did not try to find out the status of the land in question”
He moreover put the blame on the Local Military Authority. “It is the local military authority which is in the best position to consider all these aspects (like height of the building, its proximity to sensitive areas and its ability to overlook the sensitive areas) and make its recommendations,” he said.
General (retired) Kapoor also answered questions on the applications he made for getting the membership of the society, the payments made to the society and the reasons for withdrawing his membership in 2010.
“Once the allegation of wrong doing came to light on 26 October, 2010, I sought the cancellation of my membership on 30 October, 2010, as I did not wish to be associated with any aspects of wrong doing,” he told the commission.
The rule of domicile was especially relaxed for him and General (retired) N. C. Vij by former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, keeping in record their long service in the forces. General (retired) Kapoor said he wrote personally to the Chief Minister for granting the membership of the society, though he was not aware that the Collector had refused his membership application in 2008.
He retired from service as the Chief of Army Staff on March 21, 2010.