HC rejects Adarsh Society's plea opposing title suit by Ministry of Defence

The Bombay High Court today rejected an application made by scam-tainted Adarsh Housing Society opposing the title suit filed by Union Ministry of Defence claiming ownership on the land in South Mumbai where the plush building stands.

Adarsh SocietyAdarsh Housing Society. File Pic

The Defence Ministry had in December 2012 filed a title suit in the High Court stating that the land in Colaba where the 31-storey Adarsh building is constructed belongs to them (Defence Ministry) and possession should be handed back to them.

The Defence Ministry alleged that the Adarsh building has been constructed "illegally and unlawfully". It further states that MoD is the sole owner of the land and that the land was transferred to Adarsh Society by fraud, collusion and connivance on the part of the society members, ministers and bureaucrats of the state government.

The Society had, however, filed an application opposing the title suit on the ground that only the Defence Estate Officer (DEO) can file title suits on behalf of the Defence Ministry.

The Society relied on an order passed by the General Governor Council and the Government of India in 1930. "The Society also relied on the military land manual which says that only the defence estate officer is authorised to file and conduct a title suit in court on behalf of the Ministry of Defence," the Society's lawyer Saket Mone from Vidhi law firm argued.

The Defence Ministry refuted this and argued that the ministry is empowered to file and conduct title suits.

Justice Roshan Dalvi today heard arguments from both sides and rejected the Society's application.

Meanwhile in a related development, a division bench of Justices P V Hardas and A S Gadkari refused to hear a public interest litigation filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar alleging that CBI has failed to arraign as accused family members of several politicians who own flats in the society under benami names.

CBI had filed a supplementary chargesheet in March this year against 44 persons including BJP Rajya Sabha member Ajay Sancheti and his family members for owning benami flats in Adarsh building.

Out of the 103 flats, CBI claimed to have unearthed 22 benami properties. Sancheti, his brother Abhay Sancheti and nephew Paramveer Shancheti and his M/S San Finance Corporation in Nagpur allegedly are the proxy owner of eight flats. Similarly former Congress MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani and his sons allegedly own six benami flats.

The CBI has also named Major General (retd.) TK Kaul in the chargesheet for allegedly owing three benami flats in Adarsh society. Tirodkar in his PIL alleged that CBI has "conveniently" not included the names of several other persons who own benami flats in the building.

"The names of following benami members have not figured in the supplementary chargesheet submitted by CBI are- Shivaji Kale, Nivruti and Jayshree Bhosale, Supriya Raorane, Girish Mehta, Satyasandha Barve (father of IPS officer Sanjay Barve) and Bhagwati Sharma (mother-in-law of former chief minister Ashok Chavan)," the PIL alleges.

"Kale in his affidavit submitted before the Collector has claimed that he is an employee of 'Vidya Pratishthan' and earns Rs 12,000 per month. According to the bio-data of Deputy Chief Minister of Maharshtra, Ajit Pawar, reflected on the website of the Government, Pawar is the President of Vidya Prathishthan'," Tirodkar has claimed in his petition.

The petition further claims that CBI in its first chargesheet claimed that the flat to Bhagwati Sharma was alloted as quid pro quo for the alleged favours shown by Ashok Chavan while granting permissions to the Society.

The High Court today, however, refused to pass any order in Tirodkar's petition and posted it for hearing in June.

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