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Adarsh scam: How politicians, their kin and officials became members by flouting norms

The commission said they bypassed existing norms to become a member

Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

Politicians from ruling and opposition parties, bureaucrats and professionals flouted norms to become in the Cooperative Housing Society (ACHS).

A two-member commission, which probed the scam, had observed in its report that of 102 members, 25 were ineligible. It said the procedure followed by the for proposing names of beneficiaries was arbitrary and lacked transparency, giving scope for nepotism and favouritism. The Maharashtra cabinet, which was forced to review its earlier decision to reject the report, on Thursday decided to serve showcause notices to them through the Mumbai district collector and subsequently cancel their memberships.

The ineligible include the kin of former Assembly speaker late Babasaheb Kupekar; diplomat Devyani Khobragade (in the news after her arrest in the US in connection with alleged fake visa case); former union power minister Suresh Prabhu; Sanjoy Shankaran, son of Maharashtra’s former chief secretary D Shankaran; Ranjit Sangitrao, son of former bureaucrat C S Sangitrao; vice-admiral (retd) Madanjit Singh; Aditya Patil; Archana Tiwari; Dr S B Chavan; Seema Vinod Sharma; Girish Mehta; Dr Sanjay Radkar; Kailash Gidwani, an elder son of ACHS’s co-promoter late Kanaiahlal Gidwani; Bhavesh Patel; Abhay Sancheti; Madanlal Sharma; Shivaji Kale; Rupali Raorane; Capt Praveenkumar; Bhagwati Sharma; Sumeela Sethi, Krishnarao Bhegede; Cdr John Mathes; Nivruti Bhosale and Dr Arun Dawle.

Babasaheb Kupekar had applied for membership in when he was owning a flat at Powai which was given to him under the chief minister’s discretionary quota in 2001. Only after the authorities approved his name, Kupekar, in 2008, sought permission of the CM to allow him to sell his Powai flat. He was allowed to transfer the flat to his daughter.

The commission remarked that on the date of application (on August 5, 2005) and also on the date when Kupekar was granted membership (May 12, 2008), he was holding the Powai flat. This fact clearly makes him ineligible.

Khobragade, the daughter of former bureaucrat Uttam Khobragade, has been blamed by the judicial commission for breach of the eligibility condition. On behalf of Devyani, her father in his affidavit filed in February 2011 before the commission, informed that the application form for her membership was filled in and signed by him. Devyani has been allotted flat no 2301 (1076 sq ft in A wing). Her father did not mention the price of the flat in any of his affidavits. Both of them have failed to state the source of money for buying flat. The balance sheet annexed to the income tax return for April 2005 to March 2006 discloses that Devyani is a well-to-do person since she owns agricultural land, flats in New Delhi, Aurangabad, Thane, Pune and huge investments. No loan was obtained by her to buy the flat in the society.

Devyani, in her application dated August 29, 2004, said she was a member of the Meera CHS in Jogeshwari and would resign from the society after a flat was allotted in society. The flat in Meera CHS was transferred on September 30, 2008 by Devyani to one Sidharth Basu for Rs 1.90 crore. According to the commission, Devyani’s membership, though approved, was illegal.

Suresh Prabhu, Shiv Sena leader and former union power minister, had been allotted a flat of 1,076 sq ft. The commission observed he was not an A-Group government servant as per the 5th Pay Commission. After 2004, he has been a private person and did not come under “persons other than government servants”. Though Prabhu was eligible to become a member of and his membership had been rightly approved by the state government, he was not entitled for a flat having more than 650 sq ft.

Seema Sharma, wife of Vinod M Sharma (brother-in-law of former CM Ashok Chavan); Madanlal Sharma (brother of Chavan’s father-in-law); and late Bhagwati Sharma (mother-in-law of Chavan) got flats illegally. The trio had surrendered their flats after the scam surfaced.

Sanjoy Shankaran, a financial consultant, got a flat measuring 650 sq ft. The commission noted the monthly income of Sanjoy was, at the relevant time, more than Rs 20,000 and, therefore, was ineligible.

Ranjit Sangitrao, who had been allotted 650 sq ft flat, in his application had mentioned his occupation as a small businessman with an income of Rs 15,550. But he did not specify whether the salary was monthly or annual. In supporting affidavit he said it was monthly income.

Ranjit had told the commission he did not own any flat in Mumbai. However, his father C S Sangitrao, a retired bureaucrat, owns a flat in Bandra and his brother Vikram in Andheri. The commission observed that the figure of income showed by Ranjit was false and correct and his actual income exceeded far more than that. Ranjit was not a government servant and fell in the category of beneficiaries who are not government servants.

The maximum permissible limit of income for a beneficiary falling under this category is Rs 20,000 a month, but on his admission, Ranjit’s income was more than that. Therefore, he was ineligible and the membership granted to Ranjit was not proper and correct, the commision ruled.

First Published: Sat, January 04 2014. 00:22 IST