‘Not sure if Ashok Chavan suggested 20% extra civilians in Adarsh society’
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In a statement that could bring relief for former chief minister Ashok Chavan, Brigadier (Rtd) M M Wanchoo on Thursday told the Adarsh commission that it was possible that Chavan may not have made a suggestion to include civilian members in the society in a meeting that took place in 2000.
Only three days ago, Wanchoo had stated, "If I remember correctly, it was revenue minister Ashok Chavan who suggested inclusion of additional 20 per cent civilian members."
However, on Thursday, Shyam Mehta, senior advocate appearing for Chavan, asked Wanchoo if it could be said that he was not sure that Chavan had made that statement. The former brigadier replied, "It is true that I am not sure about Shri Ashok Chavan making a statement in the meeting dated June 2, 2000, that 20 per cent civilian members would have to be taken."
He said it was possible that no discussion took place at all in the meeting with regard to accommodating civilians.
This is consistent with the deposition of Chavan, who denied having discussed the issue in either the meeting in June 2000 or any other meeting. He had claimed that on June 2, 2000, the society had approached him to follow up on the proposal sent to the then chief minister.
The issue of inclusion of civilians in the society — said to be for serving and retired defence personnel — is the principle allegation against Chavan, who was recently chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the case.
During cross-examination by Mehta on Thursday, Wanchoo said: "Much before the meeting on June 2, 2000, the managing committee had decided to accommodate 40 per cent civilian members, including 20 per cent from the SC/ ST category."
Questioned about various discrepancies in applications for membership to the society, Wanchoo attempted to shift some of the responsibility to chief promoter R C Thakur. During questioning by senior counsel for the commission, Dipan Merchant, Wanchoo said though he was the secretary, he had shifted to Pune and Thakur was looking into the day- to-day work of the society.
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