While Adarsh housing society was ready to accommodate 20 per cent civilians in the society originally mooted for Army personnel, it was Ashok Chavan, the then Revenue Minister, who suggested an additional 20 per cent civilian membership in the society. Brigadier (retired) M. M. Wanchu, promoter of the society and an accused charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the matter, told this to the two-member judicial commission here on Monday.

He said that the society earlier agreed to the 20 per cent civilian membership to abide by the Government Resolution of July 9, 1999, regarding reservation of 20 per cent membership for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

“During the meeting with the (then) Revenue Minister on 2 June, 2000, the issue of accommodating civilian members came up. If I remember correctly, it was Revenue Minister Ashok Chavan who suggested that 20 per cent civilian members would have to be taken,” Brig (retd) Wanchu said. He said that chief promoter of the society R. C. Thakur, former politician Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, he and one more person had gone to meet Mr. Chavan then.

The commission asked Brig (retd) Wanchu about the notes of the meeting which stated that certain points were clarified. “What was the occasion for such a clarification?” the commission asked, to which he gave the above answer.

Mr. Chavan had earlier told the commission that he did not know who proposed the civilian membership clause.

Brig (Retd) Wanchu said that the idea of the society for the Army personnel was mooted by R. C. Thakur and he was the one who chose the piece of land for the society. He said he was under the impression that the land belonged to the State government and that he was not aware of any negotiation with the local military authorities.

“The words ‘negotiated with local military authorities’ as used by Shri Thakur are not correct. I was not called by Shri Thakur for the meeting with Army officers of the LMA during the year 1999-2000,” he told the commission.

He said that someone he did not know had signed on some important society-related documents on his behalf. He said the letters wrongly mention that he was the Secretary of the society. “I was the promoter till the society was registered,” he said.

He said that only three of the 31 members who were first recommended by the promoters of the society in a letter to the Revenue Minister on June 2, 2000, were Kargil heroes.

Pleading ignorance about the Coastal Regulation Zone provisions, he said he had assumed that it would be easy for the society to get the required permissions, since they saw construction on the BEST plot ahead of the proposed society. “I don’t have technical knowledge if the CRZ rules were applicable. I presumed it will be easier to get permission for CRZ,” he told the commission adding that the statement – “There was no issue of CRZ,” – in the letter written to Mr. Chavan, was the society’s view.