Cabinet rejects report; two NCP Ministers also come under criticism for their political patronage to controversial building

The report of the Adarsh Commission of Inquiry, tabled in the Maharashtra Assembly on Friday, has indicted four former Congress Chief Ministers, including Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, and two Nationalist Congress Party Ministers for extending political patronage to the controversial building.

The report, rejected by the Maharashtra Cabinet, names the former Chief Ministers, Ashok Chavan and the late Vilasrao Deshmukh. It also indicts Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil, who served as Revenue Minister when the building received clearances. Mr. Patil had also served as Chief Minister in the 1980s.

“The Adarsh project would not have come into existence without the politica l patronage it received right from beginning,” says the report authored by the retired judge, J.A. Patil, and the former Chief Secretary, P. Subrahmanyam.

The scam, which broke in 2010, rocked the political establishment. It was found that the building received many out-of-turn clearances from politicians, bureaucrats and defence officials. Many of them later got flats in the building.

Mr. Chavan, who resigned after the scam surfaced, comes in for the harshest criticism in the report. Three of his relatives, including his mother-in-law, received flats in the building.

“We are of the opinion that there is certainly a nexus between the acts of Shri Ashok Chavan and the benefit derived by his close relatives in the form of membership of the society,” the report says. Just a few days ago, Governor K. Sankaranarayan turned down the CBI’s request to prosecute Mr. Chavan.

The report observed that as Chief Minister, Mr. Chavan granted 15 per cent extra floor space index (FSI) to the building, excluding a recreation ground from the plot. Earlier, as Revenue Minister, he, along with Mr. Deshmukh, had cleared the reduction of an adjoining road to increase the space available for the Adarsh Society.

Deshmukh’s decision to immediately clear a Letter of Intent to the promoters of the society has been criticised in the report. And his decision to allow the Adarsh Society to use the FSI of an adjoining bus depot by changing the land reservation. “These decisions were not proper, justifiable and in the public interest,” the report notes.

The Letter of Allotment of the land in question was issued during Mr. Shinde’s tenure as Chief Minister. The report says the allotment was cleared despite a noting from the Finance Department to place the matter before the Cabinet. This was because 20 of the 71 members of the society were ineligible. However, Mr Shinde cleared it without placing it before the Cabinet. Mr. Nilangekar Patil was Revenue Minister at the time.

“The least we can say is that the entire issue smacks of undue haste and desire to bestow benefit on the Society,” the report says.

NCP Ministers Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope, who were then Ministers of State for Urban Development, have also been criticised for their role in granting clearances.

The report points out that the former Congress MLC, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, used his influence to get clearances for the society. He was the chief promoter of the Adarsh Society. It also comes down hard on 12 bureaucrats who “violated service conduct rules” by extending benefits to the building.

The report was submitted to the government in April. It was tabled in the Assembly after the BJP approached the Bombay High Court.

The Opposition burnt copies of the report and walked out when the report was rejected.

Defending the government in the Assembly, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the report found the land on which the Adarsh Society stood belonged to the government and the society was not meant for the Kargil war heroes as claimed in the media.