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Bhujbal can travel in state without seeking court’s permission

The Bombay High Court Tuesday allowed former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who is out on bail in a money laundering case, to travel in the state without seeking court’s permission.

Justice P D Naik said the NCP leader, however, must inform the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in advance if he planned to travel outside Maharashtra, and provide the address and contact number where he can be reached.

On May 4, the high court granted bail to Bhujbal, more than two years after he was arrested by the ED.

It imposed certain conditions, such as that he must take the trial court’s permission if he wished to go out of Mumbai.

Bhujbal had filed an application in the high court seeking that the restrictions on travel be lifted.

He is a member of the Legislative Assembly and needs to visit his constituency in Nashik district frequently and also to Delhi for political meetings, he said.

Obtaining the court’s permission every time caused him “undue harassment,” Bhujbal said.

ED lawyer Hiten Venegaonkar opposed the application, saying that Bhujbal owns several properties across the state and can tamper with evidence if permitted to travel without any restrictions.

The high court, however, noted that it was apparent that Bhujbal would need to travel to his constituency and for political meetings, among other things.

Bhujbal was arrested in March 2016 after an ACB probe concluded that he, as PWD minister in then Congress-NCP government, awarded contracts for the construction of Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and for some other works to a private firm in return for kickbacks.

The ED booked him and his nephew, former MP Sameer Bhujbal under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for allegedly channelling the ill-gotten money to shell firms.

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