The Adarsh Housing society in Mumbai.Union rural development minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has made the sensational disclosure that he had bent rules to give memberships to former army chiefs Gen Deepak Kapoor and Gen N. C. Vij in Mumbai’s controversial Adarsh housing society.In a 15-page affidavit filed before the two-member inquiry panel headed by retired Bombay High Court judge J. A. Patil, Deshmukh said, “I approved the proposal to relax the domicile norms/conditions in case of Generals Vij and Kapoor. This decision was fully justified and fitting, considering their eminence and their distinguished service to the nation.”Bending the rules enabled the two generals to get membership of the society and qualified them for a flat in the housing complex.Deshmukh, who is a former Maharashtra chief minister, had also held the urban development portfolio in the state cabinet.He had earlier been quoted as saying that he had only played a peripheral role in the Adarsh allotments.His admission before the Justice Patil commission on favouring Gen Kapoor and Gen Vij could prove tricky for the UPA which had probably felt that the Adarsh scam would not return to haunt them after Ashok Chavan was made the fall guy and asked to resign as chief minister.The CBI too was asked to probe the housing scam as the scam erupted.The Patil commission was set up to probe irregularities in Adarsh housing society. Last year, the media reported violations of building and environment rules which were overlooked by the Congress-led government in Maharashtra to allow the construction of the high-rise Adarsh society complex in the city’s Colaba area.advertisementIn his affidavit, Deshmukh acknowledged that he did not entertain any other request for membership to get a flat in the Adarsh complex. The matter relating to Gen Kapoor and Gen Vij was “approved as a special case” and would not be treated as a precedent, the former chief minister said in the affidavit.Click here to EnlargeDeshmukh justified his decision to relax the society’s membership rules for the two generals because they had served in the state for a “considerable period of time”. While Gen Vij had served in Maharashtra for 10 years, Gen Kapoor’s stint lasted for seven years, he said.However, legal luminaries have asked whether armed forces personnel stationed in a command posting can be described as those ‘serving in a state’ for domicile purposes since they are sent to all parts of the country, depending on the unit they have joined.Deshmukh’s affidavit does not clarify this point.The Union minister’s affidavit also states that the Adarsh society land belonged to the Maharashtra government and was never reserved for defence personnel or Kargil war heroes.”The records maintained with the office of the Collector of Mumbai clearly show that the land belonged to the state government and the ownership of the land was never an issue at any stage so far as I am concerned,” he told the commission.The Adarsh society land was not reserved for housing defence personnel or Kargil war heroes either under the development plan for Greater Mumbai or under any of the policies of the state government, the union minister added. However, he claimed, the land was in the Army’s possession.Click here to EnlargeIn presenting the affidavit, Deshmukh appeared to be abdicating his supervisory responsibility by blaming the state machinery for decisions taken on the controversial Adarsh society during his tenure as Maharashtra chief minister.The affidavit begins with a long explanation on the functioning of the state government machinery and how a chief minister takes decisions.For instance, it says that the files put up before the chief minister sets out the clear views or opinion formed by the administration on a proposal.The chief minister is not required to personally scrutinise or cross verify every fact stated in the proposal.In the past chief ministers have been hauled up by the Supreme Court for their supervisory lapses on construction projects.Deshmukh also denied that the state’s revenue department was asked to put up a proposal for allotment of land to Adarsh society at the insistence of the then Shiv Sena MLC Kanaihyalal Gidwani.This was one of the several charges activist Santosh Daundkar had made in an affidavit before the inquiry Commission.”The suggestion that I ordered the allotment of land to Adarsh in an irregular and/ or improper manner to favour Gidwani is fully mischievous,” he stated, but said that he might have met Gidwani during his tenure.advertisementIt has been alleged that Deshmukh approved a proposal to grant additional floor space index (FSI) to Adarsh by taking over adjacent land reserved for BEST depot and converting it to residential type.However, the union minister defended his decision by saying that the decision to change the land use of a plot reserved for BEST to residential was just and in accordance with law. The notification was done in 2006.The due process of law was followed and it was done in public interest, he said. BEST’s interest was also protected and there was no loss to the government exchequer as Adarsh society paid Rs 6.40 crore for acquiring the rights of the plot, he said. BEST never opposed his government’s decision, Deshmukh claimed.For more news on India, click here.For more news on Business, click here.For more news on Movies, click here.For more news on Sports, click here.