Adarsh has a defence: There are so many like us

In its defence, the Adarsh Society is expected to tell the Bombay High Court that there are many societies like it in the financial capital, formed by "influential officials" with similar instances of conflict of interest. Its affidavit lists 14 such societies.

From the time land was allotted to Mumbai's first IAS officials' housing society Lalit in Cuffe Parade in 1965 all plum government plots have always been given to societies whose members were officials with crucial postings, Adarsh is likely to tell the court.

The controversial South Mumbai housing society, accused of rewarding government officials who allegedly bent the law or turned a blind eye to rules to approve its 31-storey tower, filed a petition in the high court against the cancellation of approvals to it by local authorities. It is in the process of finalising its arguments.

The officers to have benefited over the years belong to departments such as Urban Development, Revenue, Finance, Public Works, besides chief secretaries, municipal commissioners, secretaries to the chief minister and senior police officials, Adarsh says.

With such details, Adarsh plans to file its affidavit it before the next hearing on January 27, sources said.

Government employees in Maharashtra can be allotted land at a measly 5 per cent to 20 per cent of the ready reckoner rate for the year. Most plum plots have gone to A-category officials, which includes IAS, IPS, Army personnel and former or serving MLAs/MLCs. There have also been cases of violations of the FSI (floor space index) and other concessions granted to such societies.

Several members continue to occupy their official quarters while renting out these apartments and many others have amassed two or more flats at concessional rates.

Besides Lalit, the Adarsh affidavit is expected to point fingers at Buena Vista, Samata, Shalaka, Dilwara and Charleville, all societies of IAS-IPS officers and judges in the Nariman Point-Churchgate area, where property prices are among the highest in the world.

There are similar societies in Worli, including the sea-facing Priya (IAS) and Sagar Tarang (IPS) colonies, Praneet, Aseem, and the MLA colonies of Subhada and Sukhada. In the suburbs, there is Amaltas in Juhu, Pataliputra in Lokhandwalla, and Jasmine, Nyay Sagar and Renuka in Bandra East.

Adarsh plans to point out that in most cases, these prime plots were reserved for government buildings or quarters but the reservation was changed to residential to accommodate the influential.

"All along there have been instances of officials handling files pertaining to the society in which they themselves own apartments, but no one pointed fingers at the conflict of interest there," said an Adarsh member, referring to charges against former collectors I A Kundan and Pradeep Vyas, former BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak, ex-BEST chief Uttam Khobragade and ex-Urban Development secretary Ramanand Tiwari in connection with Adarsh.

One such society Adarsh is expected to cite is Sagar Tarang, seven of whose 20 members are former Mumbai police commissioners. The land was originally reserved for police quarters but senior police officials apparently intervened saying the Worli sea-face is a prime area for quarters and a residential complex should be allowed instead.

Similarly, in the case of Dilwara, a former DCP (traffic) initially objected to the society being given a part of land meant for parking vehicles of spectators who came to the adjoining Cooperage football ground. The IPS officer went on to become a member of Dilwara and then allegedly okayed it saying that while cricket draws car-owning crowds, those coming to watch football travel by trains and do not need car-parking.

In the case of Samata, Adarsh plans to allege that many serving and retired judges already owned homes in Mumbai but transferred these in names of their children to become eligible for apartments in Samata.

Adarsh is expected to point out that in Navi Mumbai too, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has allotted land at throwaway prices to societies of IAS-IPS officials such as Vanashree and Amar, and highlight similar allotments all over the country in prime areas, such as Vasant Vihar in Delhi, Banjara Hills in Hyderabad and Anna Nagar in Chennai.

The housing socities Adarsh names:

* Lalit: Includes ex-chief secys P D Kasbekar, L D Lulla, R D Pradhan and ex-law secy Bobby Dalal

* Buena Vista: Members are Union cabinet secretary (retd) S Rajagopal, retired chief secretaries K B Srinivasan, S Ramamoorthy and D K Afzalpurkar, senior IPS official K Padmanabhan

* Samata: Justices C S Dharmadhikari and Y V Chandrachud

* Shalaka: Meant for government buildings but transferred to society whose members include former chief secretaries Arun Bongirwar and Ajit Nimbalkar, former BMC commissioners Sharad Kale and J D Jadhav

* Dilwara: Members include late CBI director M G Katre, retired DGP P S Pasricha, former Anti-Corruption Bureau chief S K Iyengar and retired Mumbai police commissioner Ronnie Mendonca

* Charleville: Members include former municipal commissioner K Nalinakshan, ex-urban development secretary L Rajwade, retired IAS officer Yashwant Bhave, IAS official Ramesh Kanade

* Priya: Former chief secretaries D M Sukhthankar and N Raghunathan

* Sagar Tarang: Former police commissioners Satish Sahane, M N Singh, Julio Ribeiro, R S Sharma, S K Bapat, Hassan Gafoor and A N Roy.

* Praneet: Land meant for government buildings given to society, with former chief secretary R M Premkumar, former additional chief secretaries Ajit Warty, Navin Kumar, Ashok Khot and Awadesh Sinha as members

* Aseem: Built on government land in Worli, its members include State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan

* Amaltas: This land meant for government buildings houses about 150 senior officials, including retired additional chief secretaries Jagdish Joshi, Manmohan Singh and Ravi Bhargav, former information commissioner Suresh Joshi, former principal secretary V K Jairath, former CIDCO managing director G S Gill

* Pataliputra: Former chief secretaries Johny Joseph, V Ranganathan and J P Dange, Urban Development (II) secretary Manukumar Shrivastav, former MMRDA commissioner T Chandrashekhar

* Nyay Sagar and Renuka: Both are recent societies, allotted land in Bandra East. Nyay Sagar plot was originally meant for judicial quarters but now is a residential complex for mostly sitting judges of the Bombay High Court. Similarly, Renuka's members include the son of former Union home minister Shivraj Patil, his secretary Sudhir Khanapure, former chief secretary P Subramanyam, former Urban Development secretaries D T Joseph and Ramanand Tiwari and Nitin Kareer.

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