Two co-accused in a money-laundering case against NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal have alleged that he held a “darbar” inside a courtroom in the Mumbai city civil and sessions court recently. The two have also filed a non-cognisable (NC) offence against the NCP leader’s son, Pankaj, claiming that he had threatened them. Amit Balraj and Sudhir Salaskar, former employees of Mumbai Educational Trust founded by Bhujbal, submitted an application before the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court, seeking CCTV footage of the corridor outside courtroom number 16 where the Bhujbals were produced on May 16.
In their plea filed on Tuesday, the two, currently out on bail, said they had come to the court to mark their attendance on May 16. Since the judge was not present, the duo said they inquired with the court clerk about the date of the hearing. “The applicants say and submit that on entering the said courtroom, they were shocked and surprised to find that the entire courtroom was the sanctuary of the main accused (Bhujbal) and his men….That accused number 1 and 2 (Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer Bhujbal) were holding a darbar for their business associates, colleagues and cronies inside the courtroom,” the plea states. It further says the escort guards, too, showed a “lackadaisical attitude” and allowed the “meetings” to be held in the courtroom.
Balraj and Salaskar said when they came out of the court and were waiting in the corridor for their advocate, they were approached by Pankaj. They alleged that Pankaj told them: “Why are you both waiting here? Your work is done, you immediately leave.” They claim that Pankaj threatened them and asked them to leave the court premises. The men claimed that the threat was “alarming” and they were “scared of injury or harm”.
The two had, in February, filed a plea seeking to become approvers in the pending case against the Bhujbals. They claimed they left and preferred to file a written complaint with the Colaba police that registered a non-cognisable offence for criminal intimidation and threat to life. The court will hear the plea on May 30.
Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer are lodged in Arthur Road jail from where they are brought to PMLA court for extension of judicial custody. Bhujbals’ lawyer Shalabh Saxena denied the allegations in the NC offence and said he was not aware of the application filed in PMLA court.