ACB Court grants bail to Chhagan Bhujbal

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Mumbai, June 22 (IANS) A Special Anti-Corruption Bureau Court on Wednesday granted bail to former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer Bhujbal in various land scam cases.

However, the two accused will remain in judicial custody in connection with a multi-crore money laundering case filed against them by the Enforcement Directorate.

“They were produced before the court and granted bail on a surety of Rs 50,000 each,” Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat told mediapersons.

But the court declined to issue a non-bailable warrant sought by Gharat against Bhujbal’s son Pankaj Bhujbal, whose lawyers sought exemption. He will appear before the court soon.

Pankaj Bhujbal has been summoned by the ED, which earlier issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him.

Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal was arrested on March 14 and former MP Sameer was nabbed on February 1 for their involvement in scams involving the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and at Kalina, Mumbai.

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In February, the ACB had lodged a 20,000-plus-page chargesheet against 17 people, including the Bhujbals, in the cases and named more than 60 witnesses, besides providing documentary evidence and details of fund transfers and bank transactions.

The ACB said the original cost of constructing the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi was estimated at Rs 13.50 crore, which was later hiked to Rs 50 crore. The ACB claimed the Bhujbals got Rs 13.50 crore as kickbacks while the contractor firm — Chamankar Associates — profited by around Rs 190 crore from that contract and other PWD works.

It further alleged that the contractors earned 80 per cent profits while the official circular permitted the gain (profits) to be only 20 per cent.

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However, it claimed that the books of accounts were fudged to show the earned profits of only one per cent.

The ACB said Chamankar Associates had allegedly transferred the money to Niche Infrastructure and other companies in which the Bhujbal cousins — Pankaj and Sameer — were on board.

Moreover, many companies launched by the Bhujbals were named after their employees and they used to siphon off funds. The Niche Infrastructure was also owned by some staffers of Maharashtra Educational Trust, run by the Bhujbals.

Following a complaint filed by former Aam Aadmi Party leader and anti-corruption activist Anjali Damania, the ACB registered two FIRs against Chhagan Bhujbal, Pankaj, Sameer and 14 others in June 2015.

In March this year, the ED attached a sugar mill and 290 acres of land in Nashik worth around Rs 55 crore in connection with the money laundering cases filed against the Bhujbals and others.

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