Indian state accepts property scam report

Maharashtra state Chief Minister says "legal action" will be taken against those found guilty in Adarsh housing scam.

    Indian state accepts property scam report
    Rahul Gandhi, left, has been pushing for a culture of accountability and honesty in public life [EPA]

    The chief minister of the western Indian state of Maharashtra has said that "legal action" will be taken against those found guilty in a property scam.

    The high-rise housing complex in India’s financial capital was purchased by those not eligible to buy them; there was blatant contravention of building rules in the construction of the complex too.

    A judicial panel’s 670-page report, that highlighted fraud in the allotment of apartments in a housing society in Mumbai city to top politicians, defence personnel and state bureaucrats, was initially rejected by the state government.

    However, on Thursday Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan "partially accepted" the findings in the report.

    He said legal proceedings will begin against the 25 of the 102 members of the housing society who were not eligible for the flats.

    The cabinet will initiate cancellation of the allotments of 22 apartments and legal action under the state laws.

    In 2011, a report by federal audit body (Comptroller and Auditor General) had blown the whistle on the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society scam.

    The report highlighted "how a group of select officials, placed in key posts, could subvert rules and regulations in order to grab prime government land– a public property– for personal benefit".

    India’s top federal investigation agency, Central Bureau of Investigation, had invoked the illegal transactions act against them.

    Further a two-member judicial panel submitted a report that indicted Maharashtra’s top politicians of violation of statutory provisions on December 20 before the state assembly.

    Legal action

    The state Congress-ruled government had initially rejected its findings.

    On December 27th Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi told reporters, "There is no question of protecting anyone or anybody in connection with the Adarsh Housing Society scam".

    Following this the state Congress-led government was compelled to accept the report’s findings.

    But Chief Minister Chavan said "no action was required" against the four former chief ministers of the state.

    They have been charged of giving political patronage but as no "criminality could be established, no action was required against them", he said.

    Former Congress party’s ministers Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope were also absolved of the charges.

    Departmental enquiry will begin against 12 officials, both in service and retired for breach of rules.

    The volte face of the state government in first rejecting and then "partially accepting" culpability is attributed by political observers to a culture of accountability and honesty highlighted by the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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