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High Court extends interim protection from arrest to Pankaj Bhujbal

The Bombay High Court extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Pankaj Bhujbal, son of former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, and nine others, who are facing charges of money laundering in Maharashtra Sadan scam, till June 7.

Pankaj Bhujbal-AVMr. Pankaj Bhujbal, businessmen Asif Balwa, Vinod Goenka and others have challenged the non-bailable warrants issued by the special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases. They have also sought pre-arrest bail from the High Court.

Last week, the vacation bench had granted them interim protection from arrest.

Enforcement Directorate counsel Poornima Kantharia submitted reply affidavits, following which the petitioners’ lawyers sought time to file rejoinders.

Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi adjourned the hearing to June 7 and extended the interim protection till then.

Aabad Ponda, lawyer of one of the petitioners, argued that ED had already recorded the petitioners’ statements and it did not arrest them at that point.

The High Court was also informed that the special PMLA court today cancelled the non-bailable warrants issued against Mr Balwa, Mr Goenka and Mr Sanjay Kakade and directed them to appear before it on June 6.

According to ED, the accused conspired with Chhagan Bhujbal, former PWD minister, to divert or ‘launder’ the “kickbacks” received by him through their firms.

The petitioners have 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.

ED, on March 30 this year, filed a 11,500-page chargesheet naming Mr Chhagan Bhujbal, Pankaj, Mr Bhujbal’s nephew Sameer, and the firms such as DB Realty, Balwa group, Neelkamal Realtors and Builders, Neelkamal Central Apartment LLP and Kakade Infrastructure.

The charges are related to alleged irregularities in the construction of the state guest house ‘Maharashtra Sadan’ in Delhi and the Kalina land-grabbing case in Mumbai.

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