Adarsh scam: Ashok Chavan to be questioned by CBI

Mumbai: After quizzing of several accused in the infamous Adarsh scam, it will be the turn of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan soon to face some questions from the CBI which plans to wrap up probe into the Housing Society case.

The CBI, which has been spending considerable time in scrutinising the documents and records of the housing society, has questioned at length other accused including Adarsh society`s general secretary R C Thakur, retired brigadier M M Wanchoo and Congress leader K L Gidwani.

They were called first to gather as much information about the case before Chavan and senior IAS officer Jairaj Phatak were called for questioning.

Phatak, a 1978 batch IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre, was the then Commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and was chairing the high-rise committee.

According to the CBI, Chavan, during his tenure as Revenue Minister, became part of the criminal conspiracy along with Thakur, Wanchoo and Gidwani after he proposed to the trio to pass a letter recommending inclusion of civilians in the Adarsh society which was initially meant for Kargil war widows and victims.

CBI alleged Chavan abused his official position with an ulterior motive of getting flats for his relatives.

When contacted, Chavan told PTI that "I have not been summoned yet. I am sure it is a normal process."

The former chief minister also refuted reports that his mother-in-law Bhagwati Sharma had taken Rs 65 lakh loan from former joint commissioner of police (traffic), Sanjay Barve.

"It is 100 per cent bogus news planted in media by some political rival. Neither I nor any of my relatives have taken money from the police official," Chavan said.

CBI, which was handed over the probe by the Defence Ministry, is conducting investigations on war-footing to finish investigations by May 31.

"We had kept a tentative deadline of May 31 to finish probe. But it seems like it would overshoot as several investigating officers are either busy preparing documents to be submitted to the inquiry commission, set up to probe the scam, or are busy preparing for the numerous petitions filed in Bombay High Court," CBI officials said. .
The allegation against Phatak was that during his tenure as Commissioner of BMC, he had approved the height to be increased from 97 metres to 107 metres on September 1, 2007.

He was the head of the committee looking after high rise buildings in the city and the agency alleged that he had not referred the height increase to other committee members.

CBI had on January 29 registered a case against 14 persons including Chavan and retired army officials, bureaucrats and state government officials on charges of criminal conspiracy, fraud and misuse of their official powers.

The plush housing society was built on prime defence land in alleged violation of rules. The building was originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house families of Kargil war heroes but was later extended to 31 floors without mandatory permission with the flats being given to relatives of politicians, bureaucrats and police officials.