Adarsh scam: CBI searches premises of 4 more accused

Adarsh scam: CBI searches premises of 4 more accused Mumbai: CBI on Sunday conducted searches in Maharashtra and Bihar at the premises of four accused in the Adarsh housing scam, including a retired Army officer, a Congress leader and a former state government official, and will soon issue notices for summoning them for questioning.

The searches were conducted at the residences of the society's general secretary RC Thakur, retired Brigadier MM Wanchoo and Congress leader KL Gidwani and former principal secretary of Urban Development department Ramanand Tiwari in the two states.

The office of the Adarsh society located in posh Colaba here was also searched.

The searches were carried out a day after the CBI filed an FIR against 13 people, including former Maharastra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and some retired senior Army officials for their alleged involvement in the Adarsh scam.

"Thakur, Wanchoo and Gidwani were not present at the premises when the searches were conducted. We are likely to issue notices to the trio summoning them for questioning," a senior CBI official said.

While searches at Thakur's residences in Bihar, Nagpur and Thane are over, the operations at Tiwari's house in Mumbai continued till late in the evening.

Wanchoo's house in Pune and Gidwani's house at Worli in central Mumbai were also searched, the official added.

According to CBI sources, Thakur, Wanchoo and Gidwani were allegedly the prime movers in building the society, the sources said.

Thakur was the then sub-divisional officer at the Defence Estate Office of Mumbai while Gidwani, a former Congress MLC, was the chief promoter of the society.

The CBI sources said that computers, laptops and some documents were seized from the premises which would be analysed by the sleuths.

The electronic items would be sent to Hyderabad and Delhi for examination of the hard disk. Tiwari, who was recently suspended by Maharashtra government as Information Commissioner, has been accused of misusing his official power and passing letters in favour of the society. His son Onkar Tiwari has a flat in the building.

Apart from Chavan and the four accused, the FIR also names retired Lt General PK Rampal, Major Generals A R Kumar and TK Kaul, Subash Lala, the then Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and Brig (retd) R C Sharma.

The FIR has been filed under various sections of IPC including criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery and showing forged document as genuine besides sections pertaining to Prevention of Corruption Act.

Chavan, who had to quit as chief minister last year after it was found that his family members also owned flats in the society, was revenue minister between 2001-2003 and had dealt with files pertaining to the ownership of the land.

He is alleged to have recommended 40 percent allotment of flats in the society to civilians. The flats were meant for war widows and heroes of Kargil war, the sources said.

The FIR also named Pradeep Vyas, the then collector of Mumbai who is alleged to have cleared names of 71 persons in the society of which several were not eligible. His wife Seema Vyas is alleged to have a flat in the society.

The agency had registered a preliminary inquiry into the scam in November last year.

Two former army chiefs Gen Deepak Kapoor and Gen N C Vij and ex-navy chief Admiral Madhavendra Singh owned flats in the scam-hit society building. However, the former top chiefs have claimed that they have now surrendered the flats.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had on January 16 ordered demolition of the building within three months, holding it as "unauthorised" and built in violation of the spirit of coastal regulations.

Apart from violating the CRZ norms, the society is alleged to have got clearances from various authorities through dubious means.

The 31-storey building with 103 flats was built on prime defence land in alleged violation of rules. The building was originally meant to be a six-storey structure.