A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act judge on Wednesday issued non-bailable warrants against Pankaj Bhujbal, son of former public works department (PWD) minister Chhagan Bhujbal, and others in connection with a money-laundering case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Special judge P R Bhavake took cognizance of a complaint filed by the ED against the Bhujbals and others in the case, which pertains to alleged corruption in the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and another case.
Advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, representing the ED, said that according to procedure, the court issued summons to the heads of all the firms named in the case. “As the charges are non-bailable, the court has also issued non-bailable warrants against the accused,” Venegaokar said.
ED officers will now collect the warrants and summons from the court and serve them to the relevant parties. A source said that the warrants will have to be executed, which means that Pankaj Bhujbal and others may face arrest.
“We have submitted charge sheets in the PMLA court and arrested two of the accused. The non-bailable warrants were issued by the court sou motu (on its own). We will go through the order before taking further action. The warrants will be sent by the court, while we will execute them,” said an ED officer, who did not wish to be named.
The ED alleged in its complaint, which runs into more than 11,000 pages, that from 2006 onwards, the Bhujbals and their associates laundered money to the tune of Rs 4,264.25 crore. The agency claims that Chhagan Bhujbal laundered Rs 291.71 crore, while his nephew Sameer and son Pankaj laundered Rs 359.30 crore each.
The ED believes that Chhagan Bhujbal was the mastermind of the scam, which dates back to 1998, when he was deputy chief minister. The complaint reads: “He devised the entire methodology and scheme of things to defraud the state government by conceptualising and implementing a scheme where the Maharashtra Sadan/RTO project was awarded to KS Chamankar Enterprises by misusing his official position and authority.”
On Wednesday, the special court also extended the judicial custody of Chhagan and Pankaj Bhujbal to May 11. While Pankaj was produced in court, Chhagan attended the hearing via video conferencing from Arthur Road jail.