Sending a strong signal against corruption, the Bombay High Court on Friday upheld a 2011 order of the Ministry of Environment, and asked the Centre to demolish the controversial 31-storeyed Adarsh Housing Society Building in south Mumbai.
“The high court has upheld the order of the ministry on January 16, 2011, to demolish the building within three months but it was challenged by the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society,” said Y.P. Singh, one of the lawyers involved in the case.
On a plea by the Society’s lawyer, the court put on hold its own orders for three months to allow the society and the state government to file an appeal against it with the Supreme Court.
A division bench comprising Justice R.V. More and Justice R.G. Ketkar, which conducted a day-to-day hearing in the matter, also ordered the state government to probe the involvement of politiciains, ministers and officials in the scam, initiate criminal proceedings against them, and restore the plot.
The judges also directed the defence ministry to conduct a departmental inquiry against its officers for not initiating action early enough when the scam pertaining to the building was exposed.
The high court verdict comes on the then union minister for environment Jairam Ramesh’s ordcer of January 16, 2011, for demolition of the building within three months as it was unauthorised and violated coastal regulation zone norms, among other things.
Later, the defence ministry also moved the court seeking implementation of the environment ministry’s orders to raze the 31-storeyed tower in Colaba, adjacent to the defence establishments in south Mumbai.
The building, originally intended to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil War heroes and widows, was later transformed into a 100-metre tall tower in which several politicians, bureaucrats and army officers allegedly conspired to corner flats at cheap rates.
After the scam erupted in November 2010, it claimed the job of then chief minister Ashok Chavan and several other officials.