Maharashtra government has rejected the report of the judicial commission of inquiry on the Adarsh scam it tabled in the Legislative Assembly today which indicted several politicians including three former Chief Ministers for "blatant violations" of statutory provisions.
The report of the 2-member commission headed by retired high court judge J A Patil came down heavily on those in authority describing the scam as a "bad precedent" which reflected "greed, nepotism and favouritism" by those associated with it.
The panel found 25 of the society's 102 members ineligible and 22 cases of benami purchase of flats.
The report said Adarsh society enjoyed political patronage of former Chief Ministers, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan, former Revenue Minister Shivajirao Nlengekar Patil, former Minister for Urban Development Sunil Tatkare and former Minister of Urban Development Rajesh Tope.
Ashok Chavan was the only Chief Minister charge sheeted in the scam by the CBI but Governor K Sankaranarayanan had refused sanction to the investigative agency to prosecute him a few days ago.
The beneficiaries included politicians across the spectrum and their relatives.
Those found ineligible for ownership of flats included former Maharashtra Assembly speaker Babasaheb Kupekar of NCP, former Shiv Sena MP Suresh Prabhu and three relatives of former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who had to step down after the scam surfaced.
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade who as created much stir after being detained by US authorities over an alleged visa fraud has also been named as one of the illegal beneficiaries.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the decision on rejection of the findings of the inquiry commission was taken by the Cabinet "in the interest of the people".
He, however, refused to elaborate on how the Cabinet's decision was in larger public interest.
The much awaited report, which was submitted to the state government on April 18 this year was tabled in the House on the last day of the Winter Session today.
The interim report was submitted to the state government on April 13, 2012 and the Action Taken Report (ATR) was tabled on the floor of the House on April 17, 2012.
"Evidence clearly indicates that it is neither ideal (Adarsh) nor role model but a bad precedent. Adarsh is a saga of ideal co-operation but it is a shameless tale of blatant violations of statutory provisions, rule and regulations," the report said.
It expressed "deep regret" over the "greed, nepotism and favouritism" involved in the scam.
"It reflects greed, nepotism and favouritism on part of people who were in one way or the other associated with Adarsh. It is sad story of unscrupulous greed of some persons closely connected with the society.
"Some persons not satisfied with the allotment of one single flat have tried and succeeded in securing flats for their nears and dear ones. They went to the extent of benami transactions in violation of provisions. That such an episode should take place in Maharashtra is a matter of deep regret," it said.
The judicial panel, however, acknowledged the state government's ownership of the land and said it did not belong to Ministry of Defence, defence personnel nor was it reserved for Kargil martyrs or war veterans.
Ashok Chavan, during whose tenure the scam surfaced, was among 13 people who were charge sheeted by CBI in connection with the case.
Chavan had challenged his inclusion in the charge sheet, saying no sanction for prosecution was taken from the Governor which was countered by CBI which argued since he was a former minister at the time of being charge-sheeted, there was no need for sanction.
The court had, however, directed the agency to get sanction for Chavan's prosecution which was denied, apparently leaving CBI with little choice but to close the case against him.
CBI had alleged in its charge sheet that Chavan had increased the floor space index of the controversial Adarsh society in return for flats for his relatives. Chavan had also asked the housing society to take 40 per cent members from civilian category, when it was originally meant only for war veterans, CBI had alleged, adding that Chavan played a key role in the scam.
Chavan's mother-in-law Bhagvati Sharma, sister-in-law Seema Sharma and father-in-law’s brother Madanlal Sharma have flats in the society. All of them have been held ineligible by the judicial panel to own flats in the society.
CBI had charged Chavan and 12 others for criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct under Indian Penal Code and also under Prevention of Corruption Act.
Reacting to government's rejection of the report, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde (BJP) said it "exposed" Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
"Chavan had played the role of Brutus in shielding corrupt Congress leaders," he said at the post-session press meet.
Tawde said BJP earlier approached the Bombay High Court to force Chavan to table the report in the House. "This is a sad day as we did not want judiciary to have an upper hand over the legislature," he said, accusing the Congress-NCP Government of reducing latter's standing in the democracy.
To a question about relative of a BJP leader Ajay Sancheti being named in the list of beneficiaries in Adarsh Commission's report, Tawde said that BJP wanted government to use all legal means to prosecute those guilty.
As far as action inside the party was concerned, he said the matter is best left to disciplinary action committee.
He also hit out at the government for meagre package for rain-hit farmers, and said BJP would not allow Rehabilitation Minister Patangrao Kadam set foot in Vidarbha.