Bhujbal, Sameer get bail in Maharashtra Sadan case

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Mumbai, June 22: A special ACB court here today granted bail to former Maharashtra minister and senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan case, but they will not be walking out of jail due to another pending case.

"They both were produced in the court and were granted bail on a surety of Rs 50,000 each," special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat said. The court had on June 15 issued a production warrant against the two accused. The case is being probed by the state ACB.

However, the Bhujbal duo will not be walking out of jail as they are at present in judicial custody in a money laundering case registered against them by the Enforcement Directorate. Gharat said that the court allowed the exemption application filed by the lawyers of Bhujbal's son Pankaj.

"I had prayed to the court to issue a non-bailable warrant against Pankaj but his lawyers pleaded for exemption. However, the court has directed him to be present on the next date," he said. The case is likely to come up for hearing on July 22.

The ACB, in February this year, had chargesheeted 17 people including the Bhujbals in connection with the case. It had filed a 20,000-page charge sheet consisting of statements of over 60 witnesses.

According to the anti-graft agency, the case was entirely based on documentary evidence, such as fund transfer and bank transactions. In the construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, contractors had "earned 80 per cent profit", while as per the government circular such contractors were entitled to "only 20 per cent gain", ACB officials alleged.

They said that the books of accounts were "fudged" to show that the profit earned was only one per cent. Officials had said that for construction of Maharashtra Sadan, Chamankar Associates, the contractor firm, had allegedly transferred money to Niche Infrastructure and other companies in which Pankaj and Sameer were the directors.

The charge sheet said that most of the companies floated by the Bhujbals were in the name of employees and were used for siphoning off funds. Niche was earlier owned by some employees of Maharashtra Educational Trust, in which the Bhujbals later became directors.

The ACB officials had earlier said that the original cost estimate for Maharashtra Sadan was Rs 13.5 crore, but later it was increased to Rs 50 crore.

The Bhujbals got Rs 13.5 crore in kickbacks from the Chamankars who earned a profit of about Rs 190 crore from Maharashtra Sadan and other PWD works, they alleged. The ACB, had in June last year, registered two FIRs against Chhagan Bhujbal.

The first one was related to alleged irregularities in allotment of a prime plot at Kalina in Mumbai to a developer. The second case was in connection with alleged rampant corruption and large-scale irregularities in the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan, the state government's guest house in Delhi.

PTI 

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