New Delhi: The Supreme Court today defreezed three bank accounts of Mumbai-based Adarsh cooperative housing society allowing it to withdraw amount of around Rs one crore for maintenance and litigation cost.
The bank accounts, which the society claimed to have opened to meet litigation cost by the members, were frozen by CBI during the probe into the 2010 Adarsh scam.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that bank accounts will be defreezed and the society will deposit security of immovable assets to the satisfaction of special court at Mumbai.
Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora said that the amount lying in these bank accounts had nothing to do with the investigation as it was collected by the members of society to meet litigation cost.
She said that after first FIR was registered in the case, the society members came forward to contribute Rs 2 lakh each to meet the expenses of litigation.
The arguments were opposed by the counsel appearing for the CBI, who said that amount need not be allowed to be withdrawn as it is very important to establish the money trail.
He said that Adarsh society is a “building of shame” and several benami properties were found.
“These accounts had benami transactions and if money is allowed to be withdrawn then it will be very difficult for the agency to prove the cash trail,” he said.
The bench, however, said that the CBI can easily establish money trail as nothing can be erased from the transaction details, and defreezed the bank accounts .
The Adarsh scam had kicked up a political storm leading to the resignation of the then Congress chief minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan. The 31-storey Adarsh apartments was built at Colaba in posh South Mumbai locality for 1999 Kargil war heroes and war widows.
The Bombay High Court had earlier ordered demolition of the apartments and sought initiation of criminal proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats for alleged misuse of powers, holding that the tower was illegally constructed.
It had asked the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest to carry out the demolition at the expense of Adarsh Society.
It had also asked the Centre and Maharashtra government to consider initiating civil and criminal proceedings against bureaucrats, ministers and politicians for misuse and abuse of power to get plots under the scheme, originally meant for Kargil war heroes and war widows.
The top court in July last year had said that the Adarsh apartments would not be demolished for the time being and asked the Centre to secure it after taking its possession from the housing society.
In 2011, the Maharashtra government had set up a two- member judicial commission headed by Justice J A Patil to inquire into the Adarsh scam.
After probing the issue for over two years, it submitted its report in 2013, which found that there had been 25 illegal allotments, including 22 purchases made by proxy.
Later, the CBI, the Income Tax Department and Enforcement Directorate (ED) also investigated the scam.