Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday ordered the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to demolish the 31-storey Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society in South Mumbai.
A bench of justice Ranjit More and justice Rajesh Ketkar also asked the Centre and the Maharashtra government to consider initiating “civil and criminal action against politicians, ministers and bureaucrats” involved in the scam for “misuse and abuse of power.”
“Union of India and state government should consider initiating appropriate civil and criminal proceedings against the concerned bureaucrats, politicians and ministers if not already done,” said a division bench.
It also asked the state government to inquire as to how the construction of the 31-storey building was allowed.
The cooperative housing society has also been directed by the high court to pay Rs 6 lakh as costs to several officials of the Union ministry of environment and forest and state government. The cost of the demolition of the building is also to be recovered from the housing society.
The court, however, gave the housing society 12 weeks to approach the Supreme Court.
The Adarsh Housing Society made national headlines after it came to light that a nexus of politicians, army officials and bureaucrats had colluded to obtain flats built on prime defence land to house army officers, war heroes and widows.
The defence ministry and the state government were also embroiled in a legal battle over the ownership of the plot.
The tower was built without proper clearances, permissions and the mandatory coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) nod required for plots falling in this zone. It was also granted an additional FSI by misusing the existing provisions of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, 1966.
In February this year, governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao gave the sanction to the CBI to prosecute Chavan in the case. Chavan had stepped down in 2010 in the wake of the scam. His case was in virtual cold storage since December 2013 after the last governor refused sanction to prosecute.
Fifty people, including financiers of some of the flats, had been charge sheeted by CBI in the case. Some of those charged include former MLA Mukund Mankar, five bureaucrats, including former UDD secretary Ramanand Tiwari, former BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak, former UDD deputy secretary PV Deshmukh, former collector Pradeep Vyas and former principal secretary in CMO Subhash Lalla.
BJP MP Ajay Sancheti’s brother Abhay and his family members have also been charged for owning benami flats in the case.
Several occupants, including Admiral Madhavendra Singh, former Chief of the Naval Staff, General Nirmal Chander Vij, former Chief of Army; General Deepak Kapoor, former Chief of Army, offered to return their flats.