Mumbai: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, whose three relatives got flats in Adarsh, on Thursday claimed before the judicial commission probing the scam he came to know of their membership in the housing society only after the news of alleged irregularities was broken by the media.
"It was at the end of October 2010 that I came to know that some of my relatives had applied for membership in Adarsh society and the same was granted to them," he told the two- member inquiry commission led by Justice (retd) J A Patil set up by the Maharashtra government to probe the Adarsh scam.
Chavan`s mother-in-law Bhagvati Sharma, his father-in- law`s brother Madanlal Sharma and his sister-in-law Seema Sharma had flats in the building.
Chavan, who had to step down as chief minister after it emerged that his relatives had flats in the scam-tainted housing society, appeared before the commission today for the second time.
He had earlier deposed before the commission in June to answer allegations against him of bestowing undue favours while granting permission for construction of 31-storey Adarsh building in high-end Colaba in south Mumbai.
Replying to questions put forth by commission`s counsel Dipan Merchant, Chavan said he was not aware that his relatives had applied for membership in the Adarsh society.
In his brief appearance that lasted barely 10 minutes, Chavan said he was also not aware if Seema Sharma`s application for membership of the society was rejected in 2004 but approved in 2008 when he was the chief minister.
He said soon after he came to know of the membership of his relatives "at the end of October 2010", they relinquished the it on October 29 the same year.
Chavan also sought to put the blame for approving the names of members of the society on his predecessor late Vilasrao Deshmukh when he said, "The approval of names of members of a cooperative housing society to whom government land is allotted is finally approved by the chief minister."
In his earlier appearance before the commission in June too, Chavan had sought to shift blame on Deshmukh, who was the chief minister from October 1999 to January 2003. Chavan then held the revenue portfolio.
"All land allotment matters pertaining to Mumbai city, Mumbai suburb and Pune city comes under the jurisdiction of the chief minister irrespective of the value of the land. All matters pertaining to land allotment in rest of Maharashtra is under the jurisdiction of the revenue minister," Chavan had said then.
He is the last witness to depose before the commission set up in January last year. The commission will start hearing from October 15 the final arguments regarding irregularities committed by the bureaucrats after which it will submit its final report to the government.
The panel had submitted an interim report to the government last November stating the land where the Adarsh building stands belongs to Maharashtra government and was not reserved for Kargil widows, war heroes and defence personnel.
The Ministry of Defence has, however, claimed the land belongs to it.
Chavan had also refuted the allegation that he had cleared the proposal for including 40 per cent civilians as members of the society.
He is the only former chief minister among the three under the scanner--Chavan, Deshmukh and Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde--who has been made an accused in the case being probed by the CBI.
The CBI has alleged in its FIR that Chavan as revenue minister okayed inclusion of civilians in the society meant for defence personnel and, as quid pro quo, his relatives got flats in the building.