The Central Bureau of Investigation told a special court today that retired Bombay High Court judge S B Mhase had allegedly demanded a bribe from a complainant at the Maharashtra State Commission for Consumer Disputes Redressal of which he is now the chairman.
The Anti-Corruption wing of the CBI had yesterday arrested Mhases lawyer daughter Manisha Mhase for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 30 lakh to get a favourable order in a case now with the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. The agency had also arrested her assistant and another lawyer while they were allegedly accepting the bribe in Pune on Monday.
Basing its investigation on the complainants statement,CBI counsel Bharat Badami told the Special CBI court that S B Mhase had,through an intermediary,allegedly demanded bribe money from the complainant to settle his case when it was with the state commission first.
According to the FIR,a copy of which is with The Indian Express,the complainant had first moved the state consumer commission against Pune-based Mahalaxmi Developers,seeking compensation of Rs 95 lakh for non-compliance of a contract signed between the complainant and the developer.
But when the case came up for hearing before the state commission,a lawyer named Sunil Shirole allegedly approached the complainant and told him the case would be ruled in his favour if he agreed to pay a bribe of 22 per cent of the settlement amount to S B Mhase. The complainant claims that he decided to fight the case on his own and the commission dismissed his petition. Shirole is named as a wanted accused in the case.
According to the CBIs FIR filed on October 7,the complainant then moved the national consumer commission and was again allegedly contacted by Shirole. He allegedly told the complainant that S B Mhase could use his influence with the national commission and settle the case in his favour if he paid him Rs 30 lakh.
This time,according to the CBI,the complainant was introduced to Mhases daughter Manisha,a lawyer who practises in Aurangabad.
According to the CBI,the complainant was informed by Shirole that someone would be sent with a Rs 5 note,with a mark on it as an indication to hand over the bribe amount to that person. Following this,a trap was laid and the CBI arrested Hansraj Singh and Somnath Sutar on Prabhat Road,Pune,on Monday. Manisha was arrested on Wednesday evening.
Seeking Manishas custody today,the CBI told the court that it wanted to ascertain if any public servant from the consumer forum was involved in the alleged crime. All the accused are booked under several sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and under the Indian Penal Code.
S B Mhase did not respond to several calls made to seek his comment. He was appointed chairman of the state consumer commission after he retired from the high court in 2009.