SIT to grill MLA Pankaj Bhujbal in Maharashtra Sadan scam

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Pankaj-BhujbalNCP MLA Pankaj Bhujbal will be questioned this week by the SIT team probing the allegations of corruption against his father and former Maharashtra PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal.

“We have summoned Pankaj Bhujbal this week. He is expected to appear before us in two-three days,” said an official with Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

The SIT, which consists of officials of ACB and Enforcement Directorate, had questioned Bhujbal’s nephew and former MP Sameer last Friday for nearly three hours at ACB’s Worli headquarters here and recorded his statement.

As directed by the SIT, Sameer will be showing up before the investigators again this week. The officials did not specify the dates as to when the two would have to present themselves before them.

The special squad is scheduled to submit its probe report before the Bombay High Court on February 28.

In December last year, the state government gave nod to ACB’s proposal to conduct open inquiry into the allegations against Chhagan Bhujbal in connection with construction of new Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi and two government buildings in Mumbai.

The Maharashtra Sadan was inaugurated in 2013.

When Bhujbal was the PWD minister, the government had entered into agreement with a contractor for construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, a state guest house (High Mount) at Malabar Hill here and new administrative building and residential quarters for Regional Transport Office at suburban Andheri on PPP basis.

Bhujbal faced accusations that he awarded the contract for Maharashtra Sadan to an associate, not known to be a capable of executing such projects. The cost of the project had also reportedly escalated significantly.

BJP leader Kirit Somaiya had approached ACB seeking an inquiry, alleging that Bhujbal’s friends and family-owned firms were involved in several non-transparent and corrupt transactions, using a web of shell-companies to park the money earned through illegal means.

Subsequent to the new BJP-led government’s nod for open inquiry, the Bombay High Court constituted the SIT, in response to a PIL by the Aam Aadmi Party.

AAP has alleged that Bhujbal and his family members, including son Pankaj and nephew Sameer, received kickbacks for awarding contracts.