The Enforcement Directorate action against former Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal, his nephew and Sameer and son Pankaj is in connection with construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.
The ED on Monday arrested Sameer Bhujbal in Mumbai after the agency conducted multiple searches in connection with its probe against Bhujbals and others. He was arrested after over six hours of questioning under the provision of the PMLA at the agency’s office in Ballard Tiar in Mumbai.
Here’s all you need to know about the case:
Who are the Bhujbals?
Chhagan Bhujabal is a former deputy chief minister of Maharashtra. He started his political career with the Shiv Sena, left the party in 1991, joined the Congress and later joined the Nationalist Congress Party. His nephew Sameer is a former member of Parliament from Nashik while his son Pankaj is a NCP MLA.
Why are the Bhujbals under scanner?
In 2005, the Maharashtra PWD department, headed by Bhujbal entered into a deal with a builder Chamankar Enterprises under which the builder was handed over a prime Andheri plot owned by the government. In exchange, the builder would build the new building of state’s guesthouse- Maharashtra Sadan- in Delhi, rebuild a dilapidated guest house, High Mount at Malabar Hill, and build an RTO office on a part of the plot at Andheri. The deal was struck without inviting any tenders. The builder then sold development rights of the plot to another builder reportedly for Rs 850 crore. Chhagan Bhujbal is accused of receiving kickbacks in the deal.
Certain contracts related to Maharashtra Sadan such as supplying furnitures and furnishings went to a firm run by Bhujbal’s kin.
The PWD also entered into a deal with a well known infrastructure company to build a library at Kalina campus of Mumbai University in exchange of development rights on a 7000 square meter plot. The same company allegedly donated Rs 2.5 crore to foubdation run by Bhujbals.
Why is the case by ED?
Though Bhujbal is alleging political vendetta for the action against his family in the Maharashtra Sadan case, there are some allegations that raise doubts and put him under scanner.
As per FIR filed by SIT, the money trail in the case had started from Origin Infrastructure that was established by Sanjay Joshi and Iram Tanveer Sheikh on July 26, 2005. Both were found employed in Bhujbal’s Mumbai Education Trust (MET).
It further reveals that the Chamankar group, a contractor and also an accused in the case, had given around Rs 6.70 crore to Origin Infrastructure between December 2007 and March 19, 2013. Again Rs 74.10 lakh was given to Ideen Furniture between 2008 and 2012 that was established by Shefali and Vishaka, the wives of Bhujbal’s nephew Sameer and son Pankaj on May 22, 2006.
Further, Origin had also given Rs 45 lakh to the Parvesh Construction, which was headed by by Sameer and Pankaj in 2013 leading to investigation agencies suspect that these trasanctions are kickbacks.
What was the reason for ED probe?
This was started when BJP leader Kirit Somaiya approached the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau seeking an inquiry against Bhujbal in the Maharashtra Sadan case in 2012. Anjali Damania a leader with the Aam Aadmi Party had also filed a PIL in the Bombay high court seeking an FIR against Bhujbal.
Damania had alleged that between February 12, 2010, and January 20, 2012, Chamankar Enterprises gave Rs 74.10 lakh to Ideen Furniture, whose directors are Vishaka Bhujbal, wife of Bhujbal’s son Pankaj, and Shefali Bhujbal, wife of his nephew Sameer that was found mentioned in the FIR provided with money trail.