Mumbai: Claiming ownership over the land on
which the controversial Adarsh Society building stands, the
Maharashtra government has told the judicial panel probing
alleged irregularities in it that the plot was never
transferred to the Army.
"Revenue records and letters addressed to the state
government by the Ministry of Defence dating back to 1950s
show that the land where Adarsh building stands belongs to the
state government," the affidavit filed by collector
Chandrashekar Oak states.
According to the affidavit, the Ministry of Defence
had on December 31, 1958, written a letter to the state
government seeking the land in upmarket Colaba in exchange for
a plot in suburban Santacruz that was owned by the Army.
"The state government had taken possession of the
Santacruz land. The Army sought for Block 6 of Colaba land,
where Adarsh stands, in return of the land in Santacruz.
However, this is was not given. Maharashtra government is the
owner of the land," the affidavit says.
The collector has relied on several letters written by
the Army stating that the Ministry of Defence has no ownership
of the land.
The affidavit clarified that in March 1956 the Army was
handed over Block 7 in Colaba as it fell within the boundary
of defence premises. "Possession of Block 6 was never handed
over to the Defence Ministry. Entries in the land revenue
records show that the plot has been in possession of the state
government," it said.
The Army has contended before the Inquiry Commission
that the land on which the 31-storey structure is located
belonged to it.
Though they have so far not been able to produce records
to prove ownership, the Army has consistently been claiming
that the land was in their possession even prior to 1937.
"All lands owned or under possession of the Army are
entered into the Military Land Register. However, the Adarsh
plot does not exist in the register," Brigadier Deepak Saxena
of the Army Headquarters (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa) had
admitted before the panel in his deposition.
In the course of his deposition, Saxena had also
refuted Adarsh Society counsel Satish Maneshinde`s contention
that the state government had transferred a part of the land
to the Army in exchange for the Santacruz plot.
"Army was always in possession of the land and hence
the question of state government transferring part of the plot
or seeking to hand over the land does not arise," he had told
the panel yesterday.
The terms of reference of the Inquiry Commission
include looking into the ownership of the disputed land,
whether the housing society was meant for Kargil war widows
and war veterans alone and if there were violations of
environmental and coastal regulatory norms.