The Bombay High Court on Tuesday extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Pankaj Bhujbal, son of former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and over 10 others who are facing charges of money laundering in Maharashtra Sadan scam.
While Pankaj, businessman Asif Balwa, Vinod Goenka and four others had challenged the non-bailable warrants (NBW) issued by a special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases, 11 others accused in the case had approached the HC seeking anticipatory bail following NBWs issued against them. Justice Sadhana Jadhav, while hearing the petition of Pankaj and others challenging the NBW against them, said a single bench does not have jurisdiction to hear the petition and granted them liberty to move a division bench on Wednesday.
While doing so, Justice Jadhav said she will extend the interim protection granted to the petitioners till June 10 by when they can approach a division bench. Meanwhile, another single bench of Justice P N Deshmukh extended till July 1 the interim protection from arrest granted to 11 others accused in the case. The accused are Pravin Jain, Sanjiv Jain, Chandrasekhar Sarda, Jagdish Prasad Purohit, Bimalkumar Jain, Sanjay Kakade, Kapil Puri, Rajesh Mistry, Vipul Kankaria, Sailesh Mehta and Suresh Jajodia. The court today also allowed Sanjay Kakade to visit Hyderabad for a business assignment tomorrow and return by evening.
According to ED, the accused allegedly conspired with Chhagan Bhujbal, former PWD minister, to divert or ‘launder’ the “kickbacks” received by him through their firms.
The petitioners argued that the offences they are charged with are non-cognisable and warrants could not have been issued against them because they were not arrested during the interrogation which took place earlier. On March 30 this year, ED had filed a 11,500-page charge-sheet naming Chhagan Bhujbal, Pankaj, Bhujbal’s nephew Sameer and firms such as D B Realty, Balwa group, Neelkamal Realtors and Builders, Neelkamal Central Apartment LLP and Kakade Infrastructure in connection with the case.
The charges relate to alleged irregularities in the construction of the state guest house ‘Maharashtra Sadan’ in Delhi and the Kalina land-grabbing case in Mumbai.