The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT), formed by court orders, to submit its final report relating to all allegations of money laundering and corruption against former minister Chhagan Bhujbal and his family, within two months.
Questioning the time taken for investigating the allegations, the court observed, “Is the evidence not sufficient to file an FIR? You do not need foolproof evidence. Your teams have had six month’s time,” said the court.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice AK Menon were hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that alleged Bhujbal and his family members received kickbacks for awarding several building contracts to private companies. The matter will be heard on July 22.
Acting Advocate General Anil Singh informed the court that three FIRs had been filed against Bhujbal and his family.
The HC said the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should not wait for directions from the court where they feel there is a case for filing an FIR or an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR).
“Two FIRs have been filed by the ACB in matters relating to Maharashtra Sadan and the University Library while one has been filed by Taloja Police Station in Navi Mumbai,” he said. The FIR filed in Taloja station is relating to a housing project. The SIT is investigating nine allegations.
“With regard to the other six allegations, the inquiry is in progress and the team has been given extension of two months to submit the final investigation report,” said the HC.
The other six matters relate to alleged kickbacks relating to Bharat Udyog and irregularities relating to the University in Nashik, said ACB officials.
Eleven complaints made through the petition have been re-classified into nine allegations. In some allegations, the court asked for a preliminary report to be submitted by July 20, 2015. The final report will be submitted in August.
The ACB has, meanwhile, called for records of various financial transactions in the projects along with records from the sales tax office.
“There are transactions pertaining to different parts of the country and overseas connection where money has gone to Singapore, Since there are huge number of transactions, we are examining this and taking action,” said Singh.
The Enforcement Directorate, New Delhi, has meanwhile filed two ECIRs under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the court was further informed.
Singh told the court that ED cannot proceed with action on their part till the ACB files FIRs in cases. “Depending on report submitted in relation to allegations by July 20, ED should take further action,” said the HC. AAP’s counsel Anil Anturkar pointed out that Supreme Court has laid down that preliminary enquiry should be time bound and should not exceed seven days.
The FIR relating to Maharashtra Sadan was filed on June 11 and the ED has taken immediate action thereafter, said Singh, further stating that in case of allegations relating to University Library, the FIR was filed on June 8, and an FIR was filed by Taloja Police Station on June 13.
The court said that the government was free to look into allegations of irregularities of allotment of land to Mumbai Education Trust in Bhujbal Knowledge City.
Meanwhile, ACB sources said FIRs are likely to be registered in connection with the other five matters under investigation. “Our investigations are under way and we are gathering evidence in all the five cases. We have to submit a report to the HC by August 18, and will file FIRs before then,” said an ACB officer.
With Gautam S Mengle
ED summons four shareholders of two Singapore firms
A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a money laundering case against NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and some of his family members, the agency summoned four Indian shareholders in two offshore companies that are now being probed by it. “These individuals were initial shareholders in the two companies to which Rs 30 crore was transferred by an Indian company, where Pankaj and Sameer Bhujbal are directors. We are probing a transfer of Rs 30 crore from the account of Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd in Saraswat Bank to two of its wholly owned companies Armstrong Global and Armstrong Infrastructure in Singapore,” a senior official from the agency said. An official said the agency had written to the Reserve Bank of India regarding Bhujbal transferring money to a Singapore export earnings foreign currency) account. RBI has written to the agency on its query. – ENS