A retired army officer on Tuesday told a judicial commission that he became a member of the Adarsh Housing Society after he was informed by his staff that the land on which the controversial high rise stands does not belong to the Ministry of Defence.
Lt Gen (retired) G S Sihota, who was General Officer in Command posted in Pune till 2004, applied for membership in the scam-hit housing society in 2002.
"After reading a news item about the alleged dispute between the army and the state government over the land, I asked my staff to obtain full information regarding ownership of the land," he said.
Sihota was deposing before the two-member commission set up by the Maharashtra government to look into the Adarsh Society scam.
According to Sihota, his staff, after obtaining necessary information, told him that the land in question did not belong to the army.
"I asked by staff to prepare a report and submit it to the army headquarters in Delhi. The said report stated that the land did not belong to the defence."
The officer further said he did not feel it was wrong on his part to become a member of the housing society as the Adarsh land belonged to Maharashtra government and not the ministry.
"My application for membership was accepted in 2004. I was not called by anyone from the collector's office for verification of my documents submitted for seeking membership in the society," Sihota said.
The commission, set up in January 2011, has already held the land in question belonged to the state government and it was not reserved for Kargil war widows or their relatives.
The panel, which has examined three former Maharashtra chief ministers, is currently probing whether bureaucrats had flouted rules while granting permission for the housing project.