CBI takes three into custody in Adarsh housing scam

Three more have been asked to present themselves for questioning

After 17 months of dillydallying and with no breakthrough in the Adarsh housing scam case, the CBI on Tuesday finally took three persons into custody in connection with the high-profile case.

The agency’s action came in the wake of Bombay High Court’s March 12 warning to the  three investigating wings - Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax and CBI- that their failure to come up with a satisfactory status report by Thursday (March 21) hearing would leave the court with no option but to order formation of a special investigting team.

The court had in February also taken the CBI to task for the delay in ‘carrying out action’ in the housing scam case.

Giving details of its action in the case, the CBI in an official communique stated that the names of the three persons arrested are: former Defence Estate Officer R C Thakur, Brigadier (Rtd) M M Wanchu and former state  deputy secretary (Urban Development Department) P V Deshmukh. It said the agency would “take a call on former Congress MLC Kanhiyalal Gidwani once he comes out of jail.”

Gidwani was arrested on March 6, along with his brother Kailash, friend K K Jagiasi and CBI’s own counsel Mandar Goswamy. Gidwani was charged with bribing Goswamy, through Jagiasi, for getting the case against him diluted.

The CBI is understood to have, later in the day, asked three more persons to present themselves for questionsing. Till date, the agency has registered a FIR against 15 persons in the case, which also names three former chief ministers of the state.

The CBI has also sought sanction from the state government to prosecute two serving IAS officers who are suspected to be benami owners of a couple of flats in the building.

The country’s apex investigating agency had allegedly  been dragging its feet on the scam, which came to light two years ago with allegations that a plot of land reserved for building houses for Kargil War victims, in south Mumbai's elite Colaba bay-side region, was usurped by politicians, bureaucrats and retired army personnel.

The usurpers manipulated the land documents and constructed a 31-storeyed 104 apartment building, “in utter violation of prescribed norms.” After the news of manipulation broke, revealing involvement of top politicians, the then Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan was forced to step down.

The state government which had instituted a two-bench enquiry commission to look into the matter, following a furore in Assembly asked the CBI also to look into the matter. The enquiry commission is yet to submit its findings.

The High Court on March 12 while hearing a PIL on the matter, told the three investigating wings that if they failed to come up with a satisfactory status report and plausible justifications then “there would be no option for the court but to order a formation of a special investigating team,” in the next hearing posted for Thursday.

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