In an order that will send shockwaves through Maharashtra politics, the Bombay High Court on Friday directed the demolition of the controversial Adarsh Society in the plush Cuffe Parade area of Mumbai.
While giving the direction, the high court upheld an order that was passed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in the matter.
The high court said that there was no Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance for the society, and that flats meant for Kargil war widows and defence personnel were illegally procured by politicians and bureaucrats, CNN-News18 reported.
However, on a plea made by the Adarsh Housing Society, a division bench stayed its order for 12 weeks to enable it to file an appeal in the Supreme Court, despite opposition by the Maharashtra government.
The demolition should be carried out at the expense of petitioners (Adarsh Society), ruled the court. The court also asked the Centre and Maharashtra Government to consider initiating civil and criminal proceedings against bureaucrats, ministers and politicians, if not already done, for various offences in acquiring the plot on which Adarsh Society stands and also for misuse and abuse of powers.
On 16 January, 2011, the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh had ordered the demolition of the 31-storey building that has been at the centre of controversy for, among other things, violating of CRZ regulations.
However, in April, the Bombay High Court had stayed the demolition, observing that it would be a 'drastic step'.
The controversy broke out when NGO National Alliance of People's Movements filed a complaint with the department of defence, government of Maharashtra, the union environment department and the Mumbai civic authorities alleging irregularities in the structure.
Thirteen people, including former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, have been chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the case. Chavan had resigned from his post in 2010 after the alleged scam broke out.
Reacting to the judgment, Chavan said that he did not wish to react to the court verdict, ANI reported.
The allegations of the Central Bureau of Investigation against Chavan refer to his role as revenue minister, on the issue of proposing to include civilians in the society, which was initially said to be meant for retired defence personnel. Three of his relatives were allotted flats in the society.
All three resigned from the society and their resignations were been accepted by the society, the society's chief promoter RC Thakur had told a commission probing the controversy in September 2012.
With inputs from PTI