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Friday, September 24, 2021

‘There is proof he received kickbacks’: ACB opposes Chhagan Bhujbal’s discharge plea

Chhagan Bhujbal, along with son Pankaj and nephew Sameer, had filed pleas seeking discharge from the case claiming that the allegations of wrongdoing are false.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
August 14, 2021 2:09:56 am
Chhagan BhujbalChhagan Bhujbal (Express file photo by Yatish Bhanu)

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) earlier this month opposed before a special court the discharge plea filed by NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal in the Maharashtra Sadan case claiming that there is proof that he had received kickbacks.

Bhujbal, along with son Pankaj and nephew Sameer, had filed pleas seeking discharge from the case claiming that the allegations of wrongdoing are false.

The ACB’s reply to their discharge applications claimed that various instances show a money trail on kickbacks received and losses caused to the government after a developer firm was allegedly favoured for the contract.

The case pertains to a complaint filed by the ACB in 2015 alleging that Bhujbal, who was then the PWD minister and the deputy CM, had favoured builder K S Chamankar Enterprises for development of a land belonging to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Mumbai’s Andheri in lieu of construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi and the RTO building in Tardeo.

On Friday, activist Anjali Damania approached the court seeking to file an intervention plea in the case. Damania said that the case was investigated following HC orders on a PIL filed by her. She added that the case pertains to a “fraud” of public money and breach of trust by those in power.

The court went on to direct Damania to follow procedure in seeking to intervene. The pleas will be heard on August 21.

Bhujbal, in his plea, has said that while various departments were involved in the project, there was no reason given on why only PWD officials were named as accused. He added that the documents obtained through the RTI Act by a co-accused showed that the ACB had referred to evidence favourable to its case while ignoring documents, which would show that there was no wrongdoing or losses. He also claimed that the evaluations done by investigators to assess losses were not consistent.

A recent order by the special court discharged five persons, including directors of the developer firm, and a superintending engineer. It added that there was no evidence of any kickbacks being paid by the developer.

The ACB had alleged that at Bhujbal’s instance, a meeting of the committee of ministers was called and the developer was approved for the project. Bhujbal has maintained that all procedures were followed with the project being awarded only after scrutiny by respective departments.

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