Maharashtra Guv makes court reference for Tiwari's removal

Tiwari, a retired IAS officer, was state urban development secretary when the controversial Adarsh Housing Society’s plea for increase in floor space index (FSI) and change in nomenclature of the land from defence to the state revenue land was cleared by his department. A 31-storey tower was constructed in alleged violations of environmental norms.

After he refused to resign on moral grounds, the state cabinet recommended to the Governor on January 11 to make a reference to the Supreme Court and also put him under suspension pending inquiry by the apex court and bar him from attending the office.

Tiwari, as information commissioner, is also accused of trying to block information about the Adarsh scam under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Notwithstanding the cabinet’s recommendation, Tiwari continued to attend the office and on Sunday met the governor to complain about “victimisation” and pleaded his innocence in the scam. However, it did not cut much ice, and in any case the governor was bound by the cabinet’s recommendation.

“The governor has made a reference to the Supreme Court on Tiwari under Section 17.1 of the RTI Act,” a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said.

Tiwari’s file with all the grounds of his alleged “misconduct” will now be submitted to the Supreme Court where the matter will come up for mention before the chief justice, who will then decide how to proceed with the reference.

It is for the first time that a reference has been made against a high statutory functionary like the information commissioner who enjoys immunity from normal executive actions and can be removed only after following the procedure given in the RTI Act.
With this development, the process to suspend Tiwari has been speeded up and it is a matter of days when it would be completed, it is learnt.

Tiwari has said that he will challenge the cabinet’s recommendation to the governor. His defiance angered Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who had earlier asked him and Lalla to put in their papers for their alleged role in the Adarsh scam.

Subhash Lalla, whose daughter and mother own flats in the Adarsh building, resigned as a member of the State Human Rights Commission earlier. He was posted as secretary to the chief minister when the Adarsh file was being processed at the top level.

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