Adarsh Housing scam: Will the truth ever come out?

Adarsh Housing scam: Will the truth ever come out?

While other high-profile scams like 2G spectrum, cash-for-vote and illegal mining continue to be in the news with several ‘dignitaries’ scurrying between jail and bail, the Adarsh scam has almost been banished from public memory, as investigators struggle to wade through the thick foliage of information and arrive at appropriate conclusions.
It is through this forest where vines of corruption and chicanery are indistinguishably twined into a Gordian knot, the two-member judicial commission is trying to hack its way slowly picking up clues, which later turn up as red herrings.

Unlike other commissions set up elsewhere in country as well as in Maharashtra earlier, Justice (retd) J A Patil and former state chief secretary P Subramanian, the two-member commission set up last year to look into the Adarsh Housing scam, has no simple task before it; the commission has to sift out truth and elusive facts from various agencies, bodies and groups of interests to come to a conclusion.

The involvement of multifarious agencies all inextricably linked with each other coupled with political personalities from ruling party juggling with facts has made any kind of breakthrough into establishing even the primary ownership of the contentious land ‘deed,’ a Herculean task.

Last week Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was forced to admit that the progress into the Adarsh Housing scam “is extremely slow and there are no two opinions about it.”

And the result of the slow progress is that the commission which has already received two extensions since it’s inception has been forced to postpone the submission of its interim report. The interim report was expected this month but it came as no surprise when the news trickled out that it would be delayed.

The depth of involvement and the reach of the politician-builder-bureaucratic trinity in the scam which has innumerable questions buried in its past has managed to widen the chasm between the truth and justice. There are hardly any doubts regarding the veracity of the belief that violations had taken place through deceit; but the establishing of these facts, pointing to the manipulation of various governmental institutions by the powers be, is a different matter altogether. For this, the commission is wading through 379 files containing 1.50 lakh documents. There are over 100 affidavits filed by different persons, besides there is also the problem of ‘disappearance’ of several relevant and important documents.

No guiding light

Till date with varied and contradictory statements gleaned from officials and people summoned, the commission is yet to decide as to the identity of the ownership of the plot even though it is not supposed to outside its scope. But since CBI is also expected now to report to the quasi-judicial body, the investigation results have so far not provided any guiding light to the committee.

 The Army, soon after the scam broke proclaimed that the land belonged to the defence, but later could only come up with maps dating back to 1950s and were unable to furnish any latest proofs to their claim. The state government on its part came up with another set of documents showing that it had taken the Colaba plot on which Adarsh building was erected from the Army by giving the latter a plot located in Malad-Kandivli belt in far-flung north-western suburbs.

To compound the matter worse, the initial allegation that ignited the scam of the land being reserved for Kargil war martyrs widow continues to be in limbo and so do other allegations flying around: reservation of flats; allotment of extra floor space index (FSI); widening of Prakash Pethe Road; reservation of the BEST (civic) plot; violation of coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms and the role of bureaucrats in the manipulation of records and allotment of flats in the controversial 31-storey Adarsh building.

The presence of in-fighting and political rivalry continues to throw up sensational facts with an alarming regularity; but the headlines grabbing facts except adding to the confused state of affairs till date has contributed nothing to the investigations that could lead to the booking of the guilty parties.

The ruling Congress-led Democratic Front alliance government after instituting a CBI inquiry into the matter conveniently allowed the setting up of a judicial commission with quasi-judicial powers.  Higher-ups in bureaucratic echelons while accepting that in the final lap the commission may manage to come out with the truth of the matter; but it would be a long, long run.

Till then the ruling DF, political personages, bureaucrats, relatives of people in power and retired high-ranking defence officials can take respite in the fact that the truth buried in the murky inception of the Adarsh Housing Society will continue to erupt as questions and nothing more.

History of all commissions be it the Lentin Commission, Srikrishna Commission, Liberhan Commission or any other quasi-judicial commission is that they take ample time to ascertain and establish the guilt of the parties concerned. And Adarsh Housing Commission will also have to trudge the same long winding path. Till the commission reaches to a conclusion, neither the Opposition political parties nor any civil rights groups can point a finger at the ruling political alliance for not taking action.