Adarsh scam: Antony seeks reports from service chiefs

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NEW DELHI - Defence Minister A.K. Antony is reported to be “upset” over the names of armed forces officers cropping up in the Adarsh housing society scam and has sought reports from the three service chiefs in the matter even as the army is setting up its own inquiry,

Antony, along with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, has been tasked by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to probe the matter.

According to sources, the defence minister has sought reports from the three service chiefs following alleged involvement of some retired and serving officers in the housing scandal.

The sources said Antony is also unhappy with some former chiefs of the army expressing their views on TV channels saying they had no idea that the Adarsh Housing Society flats, which some of them had bought, were built on land earmarked for the families of Kargil war heroes.

The defence ministry has taken a strong note of the involvement of serving and retired officers in the matter that is tantamount to impropriety, a source in the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Amy is finalising its process of launching a court of inquiry to look into the role of its officers - serving and retired - in the multi-crore housing scam.

A source in the army headquarters said the the General Officer Commanding in charge of the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa area would convene the inquiry to look into the role played by various army officers in the conspiracy.

However, action against retired guilty officers cannot be taken as per the Army Act because a soldier can be summoned to face proceedings only until the end of three months from his or her retirement.

So, the authorities would have to rely on a civilian probe and prosecution into the scam for any action against retired officers who are found guilty.

Since some retired and serving officers of the Indian Navy are also members of the society, the navy is not contemplating its own probe but would wait for the findings of the civilian inquiry.

The land in Mumbai where the Adash housing society was built was under army jurisdiction.

The issue has triggered a political crisis in Maharashtra with Antony and Pranab Mukherjee probing the role of Chief Minister Ashok Chavan as some of his relatives own flats in the society.

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