Chhagan Bhujbal money laundering case: Bombay HC directs ED to reply to bail pleas within two weeks

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file a reply on the bail pleas filed by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer Bhujbal within two weeks.

The Bhujbals have approached the high court against a special court's order, rejecting their bail pleas. A single bench of Justice AS Gadkari is likely to hear the pleas on 27 February.

In December 2017, a special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court had rejected the bail pleas of the Bhujbals in a case of alleged money laundering. Chhagan Bhujbal, the former Maharashtra deputy chief minister and former state public works department minister, was arrested in March, 2016 after an ED inquiry revealed that he and his associates allegedly misused their office and caused financial loss to the government.

File image of Chhagan Bhujbal. AFP

According to the ED, Bhujbal had awarded contracts related to construction and development works, including one for the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, to a particular firm, in return for kickbacks for himself and his family. He and Sameer used to channel such money to illegal companies owned by them, the agency had alleged.

In their pleas filed in the high court through lawyer Salabh Saxena, the Bhujbals have claimed that the special court's order was erroneous. They have cited a recent Supreme Court order that held section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act as unconstitutional. The section puts certain restrictions on granting bail to a person booked under the statute.

The PMLA court had rejected their bail pleas after the ED opposed the same, saying the Bhujbals were influential and had a history of threatening certain co-accused in the case.

According to the ED, while the total amount of money laundered by the Bhujbals was Rs 857 crore, it has only managed to attach properties worth Rs 156 crore so far.

Updated Date: Feb 08, 2018 10:49 AM

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