The Army had made a mess of its “right of ownership” of the controversial land on which the multi-storey Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society building was built.
Its officers told the Maharashtra government’s judicial commission report that the land belonged to the state, not the Army.
This comes at a time when Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh himself asserted that the land belonged to the Army and the state-appointed commission that took a contrarian view was not “a court”. “Commission ki koi manyata nahi hai (The commission has no standing). It was appointed by the state, for its own information. So we need not take its findings seriously,” he said a few days ago.
But it was revealed that defence estate officer Geeta Kashyap, who deposed before the commission in May last year, claimed that there was no record to show that the land belonged to the Army.
“The ministry of defence had not taken any action on a notification issued by the Maharashtra government changing the BEST reservation of a road adjacent to the society for residential purposes as the Adarsh land was not owned or possessed by the defence,” Kashyap told the two-member commission, comprising retired Bombay High Court judge J.A. Patil and former chief secretary P. Subramanium.
Kashyap said Adarsh did not figure in the army’s records whereas all lands owned by it or under its possession has been recorded in the military register.
She said she wrote about it to the Army headquarters (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa) on April 5, 2010, after verification of documents and records. She said the “ministry of defence has not challenged or questioned my letter”.
However, Kashyap later took a completely changed view. She said the land belonged to the Army, showing old maps to prove her point. By then, the damage had already been done.
Similarly, Brig. Deepak Saxena admitted before the commission that the Army didn’t object to the inclusion of the Adarsh land in the state government’s draft development plan. “The Army headquarters was aware that the state has earmarked the land.
This went against the Army because it should have immediately objected to the state government’s proposal if it was actually the owner of the land. Moreover, Brig. Saxena said the state government had been claiming the land since 1958 and the Army has never challenged it.
Though the defence ministry, in the mean time, has decided to move the Supreme Court to claim its ownership of the land, the odds were stacked against it after several Army officials appeared before the Maharashtra government’s judicial commission without doing their homework.
The commission was also looking into the Adarsh housing society’s request to summon Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh to seek an explanation on certain missing files. Around 30 bundles of files on Adarsh went missing in 2010.
What went wrong
- Adarsh did not figure in the army’s records whereas all lands owned by it or under its possession has been recorded in the military register
- Brig. Deepak Saxena admitted that the army didn’t object to the inclusion of the Adarsh land in the state government’s draft development plan
- The state government had been claiming the land since 1958 & the army has never challenged it
-via India Today.