NCP LEADER Chhagan Bhujbal has opposed the application filed by two accused to turn approvers against him in the money-laundering case. Amit Balraj and Sudhir Salaskar, former employees of the Mumbai Educational Trust founded by Bhujbal, had sought to become prosecution witnesses in a plea filed last week.
In his reply filed before a special court on Friday, Bhujbal opposed the plea stating that ‘serious prejudice’ will be caused since all accused ‘will prefer to become witnesses and seek pardon in order to escape the process and consequences of trial’.
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In their separate pleas seeking ‘tender of pardon’ under section 306 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the two have said that they were initially treated as a witness of prosecution. However, while filing a complaint before the PMLA court, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had named them as accused. The reply filed through advocates Shalabh Saxena and Sajal Yadav states that the two accused came before the court only after it was brought to the notice of the Bombay High Court that they had been absconding and that the Enforcement Directorate was not making any effort to arrest them. The reply states that the two appeared before the court ‘under some arrangement’ with the ED.
“…the entire application relies on a false statement that the accused nos 26 and 27 (Balraj and Salaskar) were being treated as so called witnesses…whereas no such averment is made in the prosecution complaint,” it states. The ED is yet to file its reply on the plea filed by the two accused. Further, three accused including Shyam Malpani, one of the chartered accountants of Bhujbal, have sought discharge from the case. The court has directed the ED to file its reply by March 3.