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Defence Ministry probe names two former army chiefs in Adarsh scam

Controvertial highrise Adarsh building stands at the coastal zone, Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

An inquiry ordered by the Defence Ministry into the Adarsh housing society scam has indicted several senior military officers, including two former Army Chiefs, General Deepak Kapoor and General N.C. Vij, and recommended that they be debarred from holding any government office, reiterating the findings of other inquiries and investigations of the past.

The Adarsh housing society, a 31-storey apartment complex in a prime location in south Mumbai, was meant for the families of Kargil war veterans but several top politicians, bureaucrats and military officers became the owners of apartments in the complex.

When the scam emerged in 2010, then Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, whose relatives too had apartments in the complex, was forced to resign and multiple inquires ensued.

The inquiry conducted by a retired IAS officer, Rajan Katoch, and Lt. Gen. Ravi Thodge was ordered by former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in April 2016 on the direction of the Bombay High Court.

The report held Gen. Vij accountable for “providing a protective umbrella to facilitate the alienation of the land”. Gen. Kapoor, it stated, was “not directly connected with the case” but “not well advised” in becoming a member of the society.

A Court of Inquiry (CoI) conducted by the Army in 2011, had also named the two former chiefs in addition to four Lieutenant-Generals, G.S. Sihota, P.K. Rampal, Shantanu Choudhry, Tejinder Singh, and three Major-Generals, Ram Kanwar Hooda, A.R. Kumar, V.S Yadav, and Tej Kishen Kaul.

Demolition was stayed

The Army had recommended demolition of the building, which overlooks the Colaba military station in south Mumbai, citing security concerns. The Bombay HC had given a ruling that the society be demolished which was later stayed by the Supreme Court.

While disciplinary action is not possible on the senior officers as they have long retired, the 199-page inquiry report recommended that the government should take “appropriate administrative measures” against them.

 

PTI adds..

Sources said the defence ministry report is a validation of the findings of a Court of Inquiry by the Army in 2011 which had probed the roles of a number of military officials in the scam.

According to the findings of the probe, Gen Vij appeared to have provided a “protective umbrella” towards efforts in facilitating the “alienation of the land in question”.

It said at no stage did he raise any questions on the matter, nor did he flag any security concerns during the annual security review as the Army Commander or otherwise.

The report said it was known that he had a “vested interest” in the matter, the sources said.

About Gen Kapoor, the report said though he was not directly connected with the case, he was not “well advised” in accepting a membership of the society, adding that that it did not seem he had adequately weighed the implications of accepting a flat in the complex.

The Indian Navy had raised security concerns as the 31 storey building overlooked several of its key installations.

Another personnel

Former navy chief admiral Madhavendra Singh, who was also allotted a flat in the housing society, has also been named in the report.

The report said though he was not involved in the scam, he was ineligible to become a member of the housing society as he gave a misleading undertaking stating that he did not own any house in Mumbai.

According to the findings, almost all the military officials found guilty in the scam were given flats in the complex.

Then Defence minister A.K. Antony had on December 9, 2010, ordered a CBI probe to fix responsibility among armed forces and defence estates officers in the scam.

The probe agency was also asked to look into commitments made for allotment of flats in the society for Kargil widows and martyrs’ families.

The preliminary findings of the ministry’s probe brought out a “criminal conspiracy” at the local level in the Army and defence estates to give up the land, which was in the Army’s possession till 1999-2000, in favour of the housing society.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 7:54:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/defence-ministry-probe-names-two-former-army-chiefs-in-adarsh-scam/article19244908.ece

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