Maharashtra information commissioner linked in Adarsh scam suspended

Thursday, January 20, 2011

MUMBAI - Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan Thursday suspended State Information Commissioner Ramanand Tiwari, who is accused of involvement in the Adarsh society scam when an official in the state government, official sources said.

“The suspension order has been issued and is with immediate effect,” an official told IANS.

Tiwaris suspension came two days after the governor referred the matter to the Supreme Court under the Right To Information Act’s section 17 (1), which lays down guidelines for action against the state chief information commissioner or state information commissioner.

It states that “subject to the provisions of Sub-Sec. (3), the state CIC or SIC shall be removed from his office only by order of the Governor on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the Governor, has on inquiry, reported that the State CIC or SIC, as the case may be, ought on such ground be removed.”

The governor Tuesday sent back a state government proposal to suspend Tiwari, urging it take advice from the legal department and re-draft it.

The action against Tiwari comes amid revelations that his son Omkar was also a member in the controversial building.

Tiwari, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, was asked to quit his post by the state government in December 2010 after his name came in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam.

Since Tiwari, who occupies a constitutional post, refused to resign claiming innocence in the case, the state cabinet initiated the process to remove him.

Among other things, Tiwari has been accused of withholding crucial information on the clearances granted to the 31-storeyed building in south Mumbai, in which many politicians and bureaucrats are members.

During his tenure in the state government, Tiwari had occupied several important positions, including secretary of the urban development department, between 2000-2009 when the Adarsh CHS files had moved at a jet speed in the power corridors.

After his retirement, Tiwari was appointed SIC, a constitutional post.

Even as the Adarsh CHS matter hotted up, Tiwari last fortnight sought long leave of nearly three months starting Jan 7, but his application was rejected by the governor.

Last Sunday, Tiwari called on Sankaranarayan ostensibly to give his version in the Adarsh CHS matter. Later, he claimed that he was innocent and prepared to face any action.

The scam has already claimed the job of former chief minister Ashok Chavan after allegations surfaced of collusion between bureaucrats and politicians to corner flats in the building constructed on a prime plot measuring nearly 6,500 sq m in the posh Colaba area.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Jan 16 ordered the demolition of the building within three months for Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations. The society said it would challenge the order in court.

The order concluded that the 31-storey structure at Block 6, Backbay Reclamation Area in Colaba area, is “unauthorised” and should be removed in its entirety and the area be restored to its original condition.

The controversial highrise was originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil War heroes and their kin, but was later extended to 31 floors allegedly without mandatory permission.

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