NCP welcomes Bombay HC's decision to grant Chhagan Bhujbal bail, says govt machinery misused to keep him in jail

Mumbai: As former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal was on Friday granted bail by the Bombay High Court, his party, the NCP, blamed the Enforcement Directorate and the government for his long incarceration.

Bhujbal has been in jail since his arrest by the ED in a money laundering case in March 2016. After the trial court rejected his bail application in December, the high court gave him relief on Friday.

 NCP welcomes Bombay HCs decision to grant Chhagan Bhujbal bail, says govt machinery misused to keep him in jail

File image of Chhagan Bhujbal. AFP

The NCP welcomes the high court's decision, said party spokesperson Nawab Malik in Mumbai. "Justice has now begun to be delivered. We are sure that soon all charges against him will be proven false and he will come out clean," Malik said.

"The policy of long detention (before trial) has already been scrapped. Four months ago the Supreme Court repealed the law, yet no bail was given....When we went to the supreme court, it asked us to approach the high court for relief, which finally gave Bhujbal bail," Malik said.

Bhujbal's lawyers relied on the apex court's November 2017 judgement which struck down section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The section restricted grant of bail for those arrested under the PMLA.

The NCP spokesperson alleged that the ED kept opposing Bhujbal's bail plea, despite having no legal grounds, at the BJP-led state government's behest. "The government lawyer puts forth arguments on behalf of the state government. This means the party which is in power was misusing the state machinery to keep him in jail," Malik alleged.

To a question, he said NCP leaders were always in touch with Bhujbal and the party made all efforts to secure bail for him.

Bhujbal, who handled the Public Works Department (PWD) in the Congress-NCP government, was arrested in March 2016 after an ED inquiry revealed that he allegedly misused his office in awarding contracts for PWD projects, causing a loss to the exchequer.

According to the ED, Bhujbal awarded contracts including the one for the construction of a new Maharashtra Sadan — the state guest house — in New Delhi to a private firm in return for kickbacks for himself and his family.

He and his nephew Sameer Bhujbal channelled the ill-gotten money into shell companies, the agency alleged.

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Updated Date: May 04, 2018 20:13:44 IST