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Missing Adarsh docs: Mumbai HC transfers probe to CBI

Bombay HC transferred the investigation into the missing Adarsh documents from Mumbai Police to CBI.



Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday
transferred from the Mumbai Police to CBI the investigation
into the missing documents relating to crucial clearances in
the Adarsh housing society scam.

The order was passed by a bench headed by Justice B H
Marlapalle which directed CBI to submit a progress report
within three weeks.

The investigations were being conducted by the Crime
Branch of the Mumbai police after Marine Drive police
registered a case on November 26 last year.
The bench, however, clarified that its order does not
in any way reflect on the manner in which the Crime Branch
carried its probe.

The court was hearing petitions filed by Mahendra Singh
and others seeking a CBI probe into the Adarsh Housing Society
scam.

Observing that a retired driver or a conductor from a
remote place in Maharashtra cannot afford to buy a flat in
south Mumbai and properties in their names could be benami,
the bench also asked CBI to amend the FIR to include The
Benami Transactions (probitition) Act, 1988. The act prohibits
enforcement of any right by the real owner to recover a
property held benami.

In another development, a separate bench of the court
sought a response from the Union Ministry of Environment and
Forest by March 8 to a petition filed by the members of the
Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society challenging the notice for
demolition of the 31-storey building.

Hearing the petition filed by members of Adarsh
challenging the January 16 order, Justice D K Deshmukh asked
the MoEF to file its reply by March 8.
The petitioners had moved the court on February 14
after the Ministry ordered pulling down the building which it
held was built in violation of the spirit of the Coastal
Regulation Zone (CRZ) laws.

In the case of missing documents, Himanshu Roy, Joint
Commissioner of Police, filed an affidavit giving details of
the probe conducted by the Crime Branch along with a list of
suspects working in the state secretariat.

The file that contained the missing documents originated
in Urban Development Department in 1999 and was closed in
2003. It was reported missing on October 28, 2010, and
reappeared there after four days.

Roy said in the affidavit that photocopy of documents
made available to the Crime Branch prima facie revealed that
the entire noting portion and four pages of correspondence
related to road widening and CRZ clearance had gone missing or
were stolen.

He said the Crime Branch interrogated 66
persons/witnesses from the secretariat and other places and
recorded 40 statements of people including present and past
Mantralaya staff. The police peronnel manning the gates and
PWD staff responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of
buildings were also questioned.

Besides, the cell phone records of the secretariat staff
were scrutinised.

The access control staff of the secretariat was also
interrogated about the movements of officials on October 31, a
holiday, Roy said, adding efforts made to retrieve the CCTV
footage failed as records get automatically deleted after some
time.
The affidavit named Vidya Dabholkar, a clerk, as one of
the suspects because she was the custodian of the missing file
and had prepared an inventory of available files during 2008
to 2009 which did not include the Adarsh file.

The affidavit said the cupboard keys are with Gurudutt
Vajpe and Dabholkar. The last custodian of the file before
Dabholkar, clerk Ravindra Naik, is another suspect.

The last movement of the file was at the office of the
Principal Secretary, Urban Development, and was made by clerk
Waman Raul on November 2, 2005. The date is also overwritten
as January 2, 2006. The last available entry was made by Raul
on these dates and he is also one of the suspects, Roy said.

Roy said Vajpe and Dabholkar would have to explain how
the missing file reappeared in the same cupboard whose keys
were only in their possession. These officers, along with
Prashant Pathak, employed privately to work as peon by Vajpe,
were suspects.
Roy told the court that since the suspects did not reveal
anything despite sustained interrogation, the Crime Branch had
proposed to conduct narco analysis, brain mapping and
polygraph tests on them and their consent had been taken.

He said though the Crime Branch had sought permission of
the concerned court for all the three tests, it did not
consider the plea for narco analysis. The court will now
consider the plea for brain mapping and polygraph.

PTI

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