Observing that there was prima facie evidence, the Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday asked ACB to lodge an FIR if a case of alleged corruption is made out against the son and nephew of former NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal and their firm in connection with rebuilding the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi at a cost of Rs 100 crore.
The direction was given by a division bench headed by chief justice Mohit Shah, which was hearing a petition alleging the corrupt practices adopted by M/S Parvesh Construction Company Pvt Ltd and its directors Pankaj and Sameer Bhujbal, son and nephew of the former PWD minister, respectively.
The order came after the bench went through the second interim report submitted by ACB showing progress in the investigations.
"Your report shows that money was routed into the bank accounts....What are you doing about it?" the chief justice told ACB.
ACB and Enforcement Directorate (ED) had initiated an inquiry against Bhujbal following the HC directive on a PIL filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleging that as the PWD minister, Bhujbal had favoured a contractor--Chamankar Enterprises--to rebuild the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi at a cost of Rs 100 crore.
The bench also clarified on Wednesday that ACB and ED need not wait for a court order to lodge an FIR if the case was made out against the concerned persons.
"We make it clear that ACB and ED do not need to wait for this court's orders to lodge an FIR in case evidence exists to show that offence is made out," observed the judges.
Though the court observed that there was enough evidence, ACB said it required two more months to complete the investigation.
ACB counsel Ashutosh Kumbhkoni said "we need two more months to tie loose ends (in the investigation). Later, we do not want the complaint quashed by lower court due to lack of material."
Kumbhkoni said they have made a list of 9 points which are being probed by eight different teams of ACB. ED counsel Anil Singh said they will be able to initiate investigations only after ACB completes its probe.
"We will be able to look into the charges of Prevention of Money Laundering Act after the ACB probe," said Singh.
The judges have, however, asked both the investigating agencies to share among themselves their probe details and that they need not wait till the end.
ACB, after submitting its first progress report to the HC in February, gave a second report today. The HC has kept both reports in a sealed cover in its custody.
The HC has asked ACB to submit another report on June 15 and kept the matter for hearing on June 18.
A PIL was filed by Aam Admi party seeking registration of an FIR against Bhujbal and his relatives and a probe by the special investigation team (SIT) into the allegations.
The HC had on December 18, 2014 directed formation of SIT to probe 11 different allegations of irregularities relating to money transfer above Rs 1 crore in bank accounts of private companies run by Bhujbal, his sons and employees of Mumbai Education Trust and their family members.
SIT was to be formed comprising the director general of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the director of Directorate of Enforcement (ED).