Defence ministry files claim over Adarsh land in HC

The ministry of defence has approached the Bombay High Court claiming the land on which the controversial Adarsh Housing Society building stands in south Mumbai.

The ministry filed a title suit in the high court yesterday stating that the land in upmarket Colaba, where the 32-storey complex has been constructed, belongs to it, and has sought possession.

The MoD move comes eight months after a Maharashtra government-appointed judicial panel concluded that the land belonged to the state government and was not reserved for Kargil war widows or their families, as has frequently been claimed.

The two-member inquiry panel had submitted its report to the Maharashtra government this April. On 28 May, the MoD issued notices to the state and the Adarsh Society, asking them to acknowledge its ownership of the plot and hand over its possession within two months, failing which it would file a civil suit.

The ministry, in its suit, has alleged that the residential complex, which has over 100 flats, some of them owned by retired defence officers, has been constructed "illegally and unlawfully" – a fact that no one disputes, and is at the heart of the scandal.

It further says the MoD is the sole owner of the land, which was transferred to Adarsh Housing Society by "fraud, collusion and connivance on the part of the society members, ministers and bureaucrats of the state government". There is no indication yet of when the suit will be heard.