Adarsh verdict, assertion of law

The Adarsh housing society in Mumbai was everything else than what its name stood for.
The 31-storey apartment in Colaba symbolised all conceivable wrongs – breach of zoning and building regulations, conspiracy and cheating, favouritism, misuse of power and suppression of truth. It said in stone and steel one of the most well-known corruption stories of our time. The apartment, if it continued to stand, would have remained a sore and glaring reminder to everyone of some of the most egregious sins and wrongs of the ruling class – politicians of all parties, bureaucrats and other rich and powerful people – and the helplessness and inability of the society to stand up to them. So, the Bombay High Court has done well to order the demolition of the apartment. It is an
assertion of law, propriety and justice.

Three chief ministers, some ministers, many politicians from the Congress, the BJP, the NCP and the Shiv Sena, 21 bureaucrats, including 12 IAS officers, and former military officers from generals to colonels and police officers were all together into the scandalous story of misappropriation and misuse of prime land in India’s prime city. The land was meant for building flats for widows of the 1999 Kargil war, but the patriotic and humanitarian idea was twisted and blatantly misused by the well-heeled to award themselves some fine pieces of property. Everyone who violated a rule and took a wrong and illegal decision was given a flat, sometimes the flat was allotted to a relative and in most cases those who got flats already had one or more flats in the city. Even after the illegalities came to surface, there were persistent efforts to block investigations and prevent prosecution of wrong-doers. The court has not only ordered demolition but also action against the wrong-doers.

The Commission of Inquiry that looked into the Adarsh scandal had found rampant corruption, violation of laws and a nexus between top politicians and senior officials. The Congress-NCP government of the state had partially accepted the report but had given a clean chit to all politicians. It ordered departmental inquiries against some officials, which are still going on. The state governor had refused permission for prosecution of former chief minister Ashok Chavan who had a major role in the scam. The court has now ordered filing of cases against all the guilty. All of them should be brought to book, and the demolition of the building should serve as a warning to others. The legal and legitimate allottees should however not be made to suffer, and should be compensated and provided alternative housing.

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