NEW DELHI: Holding that the scam-tainted 31-storey Adarsh apartments was illegally constructed, the Bombay High Court today directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to demolish the tower in Colaba area of South Mumbai and sought criminal proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats for “misuse” of powers.
However, on a plea made by the Adarsh Housing Society, a division bench stayed its order for 12 weeks to enable it to file an appeal in the Supreme Court, despite opposition by the Maharashtra government.
The demolition should be carried out at the expense of petitioners (Adarsh Society), ruled the court. The court also asked the Centre and Maharashtra Government to consider initiating civil and criminal proceedings against bureaucrats, ministers and politicians, if not already done, for various offences in acquiring the plot on which Adarsh Society stands and also for misuse and abuse of powers.
However, it noted that the courts concerned shall decide the cases on the basis of evidence on record and in accordance with law, undeterred by the observations or findings made by the high court in this judgement.
The order was delivered in an open court by a bench of Justices R V More and R G Ketkar on a bunch of petitions filed by Adarsh Society challenging the demolition order of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and a title suit filed by the Defence Ministry claiming that it owned the land on which the 31-storey society building was constructed.
The court further asked the Centre and state government to consider taking departmental proceedings in accordance with law against bureaucrats. “The disciplinary authority shall take decision in accordance with law without being influenced by the findings of the high court,” said the bench. The bench placed on record its appreciation for the complainant Simpreet Singh, a member of National Alliance of People’s Movement. “But for this intervention, perhaps the gross violation by the petitioners (Adarsh Society) would have been detected,” said the Judges.
The court also asked the Adarsh Society to pay Rs one lakh as cost to each of the six respondents including Bharat Bhushan, Director of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Nalini Bhat, Advisor and Competent Authority, MoEF, Sitaram Kunte, former Commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and three others.
The Adarsh Commission report which was partially accepted by the government in December 2014, had indicted several top bureaucrats, politicians and defense persons. Originally, conceived as a six storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and widows, Adarsh was accorded additional Floor Space Index, taking the total number of flats to 102. The list of violations includes cases of 22 benami flats. For instance, there was no environmental clearance for —PTI