Chhagan Bhujbal back in jail after lengthy hospital stay

Following a lower court order and rejection of bail plea by the Bombay High Court, former Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal was sent back to Arthur Road jail here from a government hospital.

Chhagan Bhujbal back in jail after lengthy hospital stay

Mumbai: Former Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal, arrested for involvement in scams involving the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and at Kalina, Mumbai, has been sent back to Arthur Road jail here from a government hospital.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was sent back to prison following a lower court order and rejection of bail plea by the Bombay High Court.

Bhujbal was arrested on March 14 and former MP Sameer was nabbed on February 1 for their involvement in scams involving the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and at Kalina, Mumbai.

Dr T P Lahane, Dean of the J J Hospital confirme dthat Bhujbal was sent to the Arthur Road Jail Wednesday night.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday dismissed the NCP leader's plea seeking bail and challenging arrest under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). While the special PMLA court directed that he be shifted from hospital to Arthur Road jail.

The jail authorities had told the PMLA court that Bhujbal, 69, had refused to undergo angiography thrice, and his continued stay in the hospital would serve no purpose.

High Court, which rejected Bhujbal's bail plea, observed that he had failed to show that his arrest is wholly illegal, null and void.

Bhujbal had sought bail on medical grounds. He also said that his arrest by Enforcement Directorate (ED) was not as per the procedures established by law.

Bhujbal, whose stay at the private-run Bombay Hospital here since November 2 prompted criticism that he was receiving preferential treatment, was discharged from there on December 8 and sent back to the government-run J J Hospital.

An intervention application filed by activist Anjali Damania had said it was "sheer negligence of duty" by J J Hospital and Arthur Road jail that Bhujbal was in Bombay Hospital since November 2.

On October 27, special judge P R Bhavake had allowed Bhujbal to be taken to a private hospital after he was told that a Thallium scan, one of the three tests recommended for Bhujbal, was not available at the government hospital.

On October 28, prison authorities took Bhujbal to government-run J J Hospital for the other two tests. He was then transferred to Bombay Hospital.

In February, the ACB had lodged a 20,000-plus-page chargesheet against 17 people, including the Bhujbals, in the cases and named more than 60 witnesses, besides providing documentary evidence and details of fund transfers and bank transactions.

The ACB said the original cost of constructing the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi was estimated at Rs 13.50 crore, which was later hiked to Rs 50 crore. The ACB claimed the Bhujbals got Rs 13.50 crore as kickbacks while the contractor firm -- Chamankar Associates -- profited by around Rs 190 crore from that contract and other PWD works.

It further alleged that the contractors earned 80 per cent profits while the official circular permitted the gain (profits) to be only 20 per cent.

However, it claimed that the books of accounts were fudged to show the earned profits of only one per cent.

The ACB said Chamankar Associates had allegedly transferred the money to Niche Infrastructure and other companies in which the Bhujbal cousins -- Pankaj and Sameer -- were on board.

Moreover, many companies launched by the Bhujbals were named after their employees and they used to siphon off funds. The Niche Infrastructure was also owned by some staffers of Maharashtra Educational Trust, run by the Bhujbals.

Following a complaint filed by former Aam Aadmi Party leader and anti-corruption activist Anjali Damania, the ACB registered two FIRs against Chhagan Bhujbal, Pankaj, Sameer and 14 others in June 2015.

In March this year, the ED attached a sugar mill and 290 acres of land in Nashik worth around Rs 55 crore in connection with the money laundering cases filed against the Bhujbals and others.

(With IANS/PTI inputs)


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