Ahead of hearing of the case in the Bombay high court on Thursday, CBI on Wednesday arrested two former major generals of the Army in connection with the multi-crore rupee Adarsh housing society scam.
Major General (retd) A R Kumar was arrested in the wee hours from his Hyderabad residence and produced before a court there for transit remand for being taken to Mumbai, official sources said.
A CBI team visited the home of another retired Maj Gen T K Kaul who was not present at his home in Mumbai but later turned up at the CBI office on his own where the formalities were completed for his arrest.
Both Kumar and Kaul would be produced before a designated court in Mumbai on Thursday along with former Congress MLC Kanhiya Lal Gidwani who was arrested on Wednesday after he had secured a bail in another case.
CBI secured a remand for three others -- R C Thakur, a retired defence estates officer, and Brig (retd) M M Wanchoo and P V Deshmukh, former Deputy Secretary in the state urban development department. They were remanded to CBI custody till March 31.
In its remand note, CBI said the agency needs to unearth how the accused persons managed to get clearances from state government and other agencies and whether any payments were made.
CBI also said the custody was required to find out the benami transactions.
The land where the Adarsh housing society was formed falls under coastal regulatory zone for which clearance from the ministry of environment and forests is essential.
CBI alleged Deshmukh had misused his official position as deputy secretary of the state urban development department and issued a letter to the Collector, Mumbai, stating that MoEF has granted a no objection certificate.
According to CBI, the MoEF had not given any permission but only said permission must be taken from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority.
CBI said the housing society was meant for serving and retired defence personnel but at a later stage civilians were also included at the behest of public servants who dealt with the file and got allotted a flat in the society as advantage.
CBI alleged Kumar had, during his tenure as general officer commanding Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat Area, fraudulently and illegally issued a no objection certificate to the collector of Mumbai for development of a residential building on the plot.
Kumar's son was allotted a flat in the plush 31-storey building in return for the favour, the agency alleged.
The action of CBI comes ahead of another hearing before the Bombay high court on Thursday. The court had in its last hearing hit out at CBI for its failure to act against the high and the mighty.
These are the first arrests by CBI ever since it registered a case in the multi-crore scam in which former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has also been named as an accused.
A division bench of the high court comprising justices P B Majmudar and R D Dhanuka had questioned CBI for delaying the arrests in the case.
"Why have you (CBI) not arrested any of the accused yet? Are you feeling shy or are you just protecting the accused? If prima facie case is made out against anyone, then action should be taken irrespective of who that person is. Delay in such cases can be dangerous," the bench had said during its March 12 hearing.
CBI has also sought sanction to prosecute Jairaj Pathak and Pradeep Vyas, both IAS officers, who are allegedly involved in the case.