HC grants bail to Sameer Bhujbal
Justice Gadkari directed Sameer be released on cash bail of ₹5 lakhUpdated: Jun 07, 2018 00:22 IST
The Bombay high court on Wednesday granted bail to Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of former state public works department (PWD) minister Chhagan Bhujbal, in connection with the money laundering case in which the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader himself got bail about a month ago.
Justice AS Gadkari granted bail to Sameer primarily because his politically heavy-weight uncle was granted bail on May 4 by another HC judge in the same case. Besides, the judge also considered the fact that Sameer was arrested on February 1, 2016, and has spent nearly one-third of the maximum sentence (seven years) prescribed for the offences that he is charged with.
Justice Gadkari directed Sameer be released on cash bail of ₹5 lakh. He has been asked to meet the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as and when called for and also the Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on scheduled dates. Besides, he has been restrained from venturing out of jurisdiction of the HC without prior permission.
The ED case against the Bhujbals is based on the number of cases registered by the Maharashhtra anti-corruption bureau (ACB) in June 2015. According to the ACB, Chhagan Bhujbal, the then PWD minister had granted the contract for construction of Maharashtra Sadan at New Delhi to KS Chamankar and Enterprises for illegal gratifications, which they subsequently laundered. The ED had alleged that Sameer set up 30 to 40 shell companies through which the purportedly ill-gotten money was siphoned off.
Sameer had approached the HC seeking enlargement on bail contending that he cannot be kept behind bars indefinitely, as charges were yet to be framed against him, and the trial was not likely to start in near future. Besides, he argued that the huge number of witnesses and accused persons implied that the trial would take longer time to conclude.
The ED had strenuously opposed his bail plea. Additional solicitor general Anil Singh argued that Section 45(1)(ii) of the PMLA Act, 2002, required that notice must be issue to the public prosecutor concerned before granting bail to any person accused of offence under the PMLA and bail can be granted to such an accused only if “the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing he is not guilty of the offence charged and he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.”
Justice Gadkari, however, rejected the contention noting that the section has been struck down by the Supreme Court and the rigours have not been brought back on the statute book. However, Singh maintained that a subsequent amendment to PMLA has made the SC ruling ineffective.