Maharashtra NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal gets bail after spending 2 years in jail
Bombay high court granted bail to the senior NCP leader who is accused of money launderingUpdated: May 04, 2018 22:04 IST
The Bombay high court on Friday granted bail to senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Chhagan Bhujbal, 71, in a money-laundering case.
The NCP leader is accused of money laundering in the Maharashtra Sadan case, and had moved the Bombay HC seeking bail in January, after the declaration of section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Section 45 of PMLA restricts the granting of bail to any person booked for the offence and prescribes imprisonment for more than three years.
Earlier, a PMLA court had rejected his bail plea after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) opposed it, claiming that Bhujbal was influential and had already been accused of threatening two co-accused for their willingness to turn approvers in the case.
In the fresh plea, Bhujbal’s lawyer Salabh Saxena claimed that after the apex court’s order, several accused have been granted bail by respective courts. Bhujbal cited the case of Yogesh Mittal, booked for his role in a money-laundering case in Delhi, and meat exporter Moin Qureshi, booked for his alleged connections with a hawala racket. Bhujbal also made an emotional appeal about his age and health, claiming that “he is unable to defend his case effectively or seek legal opinion.”
Bhujbal was arrested in March 2016 by the ED for money laundering in the Maharashtra Sadan scam case, following the arrest of his nephew Sameer Bhujbal. The ED said Bhujbal and his associates misused their positions to cause financial losses to the state government. It is alleged that the redevelopment of Maharashtra Sadan, the state guesthouse, was not advertised. The contractor allegedly gave a sub-contract to companies owned by Bhujbal’s kin and friend. A developer was reportedly allowed to carry out the makeover of the Sadan and Andheri RTO in lieu for Floor Space Index (FSI) for a slum rehabilitation project in Andheri. The FIR said the move benefited the developer, KS Chamankar.
It is also alleged that Bhujbal accepted kickbacks through the firms of his relatives and employees. The agency has claimed that a total of Rs 857 crore was laundered, but it has managed to attach properties worth Rs 156 crore only.