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Vilasrao deposes before Adarsh Commission

Mumbai: Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today deposed before the two-member judicial panel set up by the Maharashtra government to go into the Adarsh housing society scam. Deshmukh, Union Minister of Science and Technology, was the state`s Chief Minister when crucial clearances were given to the controversial society, allegedly in violation of environmental and other norms.

Deshmukh, who was state Chief Minister twice between 1999 and 2003 and 2004-2008, appeared before the Judicial Commission as a witness. The decision to allot land, claimed to be in the possession of Ministry of Defence, to the society, and grant of additional Floor Space Index to it was taken during his tenure as Chief Minister when he also held the Urban Development portfolio.

It is alleged that he also approved relaxation of the 15-year domicile rule to favour defence officers. In his deposition before the panel yesterday, Union Power Minister and former Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had tried to shift the blame on Deshmukh, saying the decision to allot the land to the society and additional FSI was taken when he helmed the state government.

While the commission has already concluded that the land belonged to the state government and not the Ministry of Defence, it is now looking into whether any rules were flouted while granting various clearances to the society.

Another former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, an accused in the case, is scheduled to appear before the Commission, headed by retired High Court judge J A Patil, on June 30. Besides CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department are also probing the alleged irregularities.

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