Thursday, December 15, 2016

Adarsh Scam: Revoke membership of 22 flat owners, CBI tells government again

The central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sent a fresh reminder to the Maharashtra government to revoke the membership of 22 flat owners in the scam-tainted Adarsh Housing Society. These include flats belonging to Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and diplomat Devyani Khobragade. The agency’s probe has found these members ineligible. The agency has in the past sent at least four reminders seeking details on the action taken by the state government on its findings.
“A Self-Content Note (SCN) detailing the irregularities on the part of the 22 flat owners has been submitted to the chief secretary of Maharashtra recently. Reminders have been sent to them asking them on the action taken. However, our correspondences have so far not elicited any response,” an official privy to the finding told The Indian Express.
In the case pertaining to Khobragade, both the CBI and the two-member inquiry commission constituted by the state government to probe the alleged irregularities had found that she was ineligible to purchase the flat. She was allotted a 1,076 sq ft flat in A wing of the society. While the report by the judicial commission said Khobragade already owned a flat in the suburb of Oshiwara under the jurisdiction of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), violating the eligibility criteria, the central agency had found that the affidavit submitted by her to the judicial commission did not reveal many important details. “Her father, Uttam Khobragade, had submitted the affidavit before the commission in which he had stated that the application form for Devyani’s membership was filled and signed by him. The source of the money was not stated. We also found that she was ineligible at that time and therefore we recommended her membership to be revoked,” the official added.
However, Uttam Khobragade had defended himself claiming that Devyani was a member of Meera CHS in July 2004, but when her membership was accepted by Adarsh society in May 2008, she immediately resigned from Meera CHS. When contacted, Uttam Khobragade refused to comment. “You (this correspondent) could check with the CBI or the state government. I don’t want to comment on the issue,” he said.
On Prabhu’s flat, the agency’s finding revealed that he was not an MP in 2008, at the time of the allotment, and hence not entitled for a bigger flat. “Though Prabhu was eligible to become a member of the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society and his membership was approved by the state government, he was not entitled to a flat larger than 650 sq ft,” both the CBI and the judicial commission had observed.
Prabhu had been allotted a flat of 1,076 sq ft. In 2013, when the commission’s findings were tabled, Prabhu had defended himself claiming that he was MP till 2009 and as per the Government of Maharashtra order all MPs were eligible for a bigger flat. Messages to Prabhu didn’t elicit any response.
The central agency, which has been probing the case since 2010, had filed an FIR in January 2011. In July 2012, the CBI chargesheeted 13 people, including former chief minister Ashok Chavan. The accused were chargesheeted under criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct under sections 120(B) and 420 of Indian Penal Code and section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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